The concept for this graphic novel is intriguing and promising: every page presents a view of the same exact spot at different moments in time, focuseThe concept for this graphic novel is intriguing and promising: every page presents a view of the same exact spot at different moments in time, focused primarily on scenes of a living room in the 20th Century, though the timeline occasionally extends as far back as prehistory and even into an imagined future. Oftentimes several timelines are overlayed on each other, creating a sort of collage of different scenes all in the same location.
It is an idea with great promise, but unfortunately, the execution left me cold. Despite sharing a geographical location, the scenes all feel disconnected from each other. Add to this the constant jumping back and forth in time combined with the fairly generic design of any recurring characters, and I rarely even remembered if this was a set of characters I had seen before in a previous scene or not. This meant that there was no real ability to emotionally connect with any characters. I also felt like a number of choices took away from any emotional resonance that might have been achieved with a more focused scope: did we need to see Benjamin Franklin coming to visit his son? Did we need to see a future tour guide in the year 2213 explaining to visitors what a wristwatch was?
Apparently this book was based on a shorter, 36-panel comic in Raw magazine that focused on one family over a shorter timeline. I feel like that more focused approach might have allowed for a greater emotional impact, but the book version falls flat....more
A long form prose poem about a trip to an imaginary theme park where the attractions are based on the sources of human happiness does not seem like itA long form prose poem about a trip to an imaginary theme park where the attractions are based on the sources of human happiness does not seem like it should be something that could work, but this does and it is excellent. It is thought provoking in its presentation of philosophy and emotionally powerful in the personal story that underpins it. It is utterly unique and worth reading.
I struggled at first to work out how best to read it. Because it rhymes, there is an instinct to impose a line-by-line cadence to one's reading, but i found this to be awkward. It was more comfortable to simply read it as prose and allow the rhythm of the rhyme to exist in the background....more
Guaranteed to cause outrage amongst the legion guardians of political correctness, this book perhaps serves above all to demonstrate that some ideas bGuaranteed to cause outrage amongst the legion guardians of political correctness, this book perhaps serves above all to demonstrate that some ideas benefit from examination through an offensive lens. Those who can get past any knee-jerk reactions will quickly find that the book is not, in fact, a criticism of Islam. Like just about all of Houellebecq it is a criticism of French society specifically, Western society in general, and -- in this case -- the hypocrisy of the intellectual elites who espouse the ideals thereof.
The writing itself isn't his best work, although it is marked by Houellebecq's trademark intensely aggressive yet beautifully articulated cynicism. But more than anything this is a book of ideas. It will make you uncomfortable, and you'll likely have difficulty discussing it in polite company once you've finished-- all of which, I believe, is precisely the point....more
I picked this up out of mild desperation in an airport in advance of a long journey on which I had nothing to read. I recognised the author's name, anI picked this up out of mild desperation in an airport in advance of a long journey on which I had nothing to read. I recognised the author's name, and I figured a dumb spy novel would be as good a way to pass the time as anything available among the meagre offerings of the Heathrow WH Smith.
To my pleasant surprise, despite the unimaginative title and rather terrible back cover copy, the book itself is excellent. The writing is hugely entertaining, infusing wry humour and colour into the scenes and characters. The plot itself is not, as I expected, an over-the-top Bond-style thriller, but something much more subtle, nuanced, and realistic. The fact that the author himself served in the British intelligence service also lends an air of credibility to the proceedings.
That said, it's not A Perfect Book, and I found the third act somewhat less satisfying than the first two, but it is so entertainingly written and enjoyable that I can't really fault it for this. Highly recommendable.
This book, of seemingly little import when I first read it over a decade ago, has nonetheless haunted me since. Rereading it now, I think I understandThis book, of seemingly little import when I first read it over a decade ago, has nonetheless haunted me since. Rereading it now, I think I understand why....more