I recently received the 8 newest kuš! minicomics from the publishers (lucky me), and this is my favorite of the bunch. That's really saying something...moreI recently received the 8 newest kuš! minicomics from the publishers (lucky me), and this is my favorite of the bunch. That's really saying something too as there hasn't been a single kuš! comic book that hasn't been worth reading. kuš! is based in Latvia but they feature comics artists from around the world. Swimming Pool, #24 in this series, is illustrated with gorgeous painted drawings in a dreamlike, neo-primitivist style. The conclusion may have been a bit predictable but Vaivare's art easily transcends that. If you like European and/or art comics this comes highly recommended. (less)
2014 is the year of LGBTQ-themed graphic novels from non-LGBTQ specific, mainstream-y alt-comics presses. In addition to this charming collection of f...more2014 is the year of LGBTQ-themed graphic novels from non-LGBTQ specific, mainstream-y alt-comics presses. In addition to this charming collection of first-person lesbian coming out stories from the creator of 2009's Kaspar, published by D + Q, we've gotten 100 Crushes by Elisha Lim (Koyama Press), Pregnant Butch by AK Summers (Soft Skull), and the upcoming Massive, edited by Graham Kolbeins and Anne Ishii (Fantagraphics). It's a weird but very welcome development that I hope continues. The fact that this barely-a-handful of books seems like a genuine trend speaks to the poor representation that LGBTQ comics and creators have received in the past, and their growing acceptance in to the "mainstream" of the alt-comics scene. We still have a ways to go but I remain hopeful, and very curious to see what the future might portend.(less)
I really enjoyed the two seasons of the Netflix series based on this bestselling book and was psyched when a spanking fresh copy of the paperback rece...moreI really enjoyed the two seasons of the Netflix series based on this bestselling book and was psyched when a spanking fresh copy of the paperback recently showed up in my neighborhood's Little Library kiosk ("Take a book, return a book"). Though the series has definite serious and political undertones, it's first and foremost entertainment. Kerman's original raison d'etre however, was deeply activist at the core – she wrote this brisk, funny, smart memoir about her experiences serving a year's sentence in a federal penitentiary mainly in an attempt to shine a spotlight on the deplorable state of America's criminal justice system. She makes a convincing case that it perpetuates itself on the backs of taxpayers and the inmates themselves, returning precious little for the human and material resources it uses up. Kerman now serves on the board of the Women's Prison Association and advocates for justice reform. Here are just a couple of factoid-y passages from her book:
"In 1980, there were approximately 500,000 people in prison in the United States. Today there are 2.3 million. Much of this is due to the "war on drugs," which has not reduced the rates of drug addiction or abuse in this country."
"The United States has the biggest prison population in the world – we incarcerate 25 percent of the world's prisoners, though we are only 5 percent of the world's population."
She also concludes through her own observation and experience that our prison system contributes little to the rehabilitation of inmates, tearing low income families apart and damaging already vulnerable communities. Ultimately, she concludes that what prison really teaches its residents is "how to survive as a prisoner, not as a citizen – not a very constructive body of knowledge for us or the communities to which we return." She makes a compelling case that reform is not only morally right but deeply necessary. I'm really glad I got to read this book and that it has found such a wide audience. (less)
I unabashedly fell for the film version of this book, winner of the Best Picture Oscar in 1983, a beautifully acted character-driven comedy drama abou...moreI unabashedly fell for the film version of this book, winner of the Best Picture Oscar in 1983, a beautifully acted character-driven comedy drama about the lives and complicated relationships of a mother and daughter, in Houston and the Midwest, respectively, with a final 15 minutes that reduce me to a puddle of tears every time I see it. Who could ever forget Shirley MacLaine screaming in a panicky rage at nurses to give a patient an overdue painkiller, or Debra Winger bravely saying goodbye forever to her young sons from her deathbed? Omg, I'm going to cry right now, just thinking about it! It's been dismissed by many as the forerunner of the "chick flick" (an insulting, even misogynistic term), as well as a totally shameless tearjerker (see examples above). The latter is doubtlessly true, but as long as it works what harm is there in that? I for one enjoy a good cry (again, see examples above). Anyway, knowing the film so well, I was not liking this book during much of its considerable midsection. It is a very different story, focusing as it does largely on the Aurora character (the mother) and her many suitors far more than on Emma, her daughter. Emma's struggles in her marriage to a weak-willed, philandering academic has always struck me as the more urgent, true to life and relatable part of the story than the light, excessively quirky comedy of the eccentric Aurora and her wacky beaux. Being that I wasn't enjoying Aurora much, this section seemed to drag on way too long. But the last chunk of the book, when the focus goes back to Emma, and to inevitable tragedy, is beautifully written - even hauntingly so. Though I found McMurtry's The Last Picture Show a far more consistent work, this one proved itself in the end, better late than never, bumping up my rating a whole (evening) star. Fans of the film version are advised caution, however. (less)
An absorbing post end-of-the-world mindfuck of a story. When all is revealed at the conclusion it makes a perfect sort of sense, everything snapping i...moreAn absorbing post end-of-the-world mindfuck of a story. When all is revealed at the conclusion it makes a perfect sort of sense, everything snapping into place. Evenson's dystopian tale reminds me of Ira Levin's This Perfect Day, though it concludes on a far bleaker note. Highly recommended for fans of this genre. (less)
This moody & insightful multiple character study features various damaged people in the small west Texas town of Thalia in the early 1950’s. While...moreThis moody & insightful multiple character study features various damaged people in the small west Texas town of Thalia in the early 1950’s. While the older folks try to cope with failed dreams and disappointments, the young high school students slowly go sort of nuts in that peculiar small town combination of sexual frustration, boredom, and the meanness born of narrow expectations. The final picture McMurtry paints features some small rays of hope shining through a rather bleak appraisal. I finished it wanting to read more of his work. The dialogue, characters and motivations are complex and feel true to life. (less)
So great to see Roz Chast do something long form. This graphic memoir is alternately painfully and hilariously funny as well as deeply moving, and I t...moreSo great to see Roz Chast do something long form. This graphic memoir is alternately painfully and hilariously funny as well as deeply moving, and I think everyone should read it. You'll have a much easier time with it than Joyce Farmer's Special Exits, a graphic novel on the very same subject that is very well done but ultimately a somewhat grueling read. Anyway, my full review of Chast's book is in the Summer 2014 print edition of Rain Taxi. (less)
Fun little late-seventies occult potboiler by the author of The Beguiled (you know, the one made into that odd 1971 Clint Eastwood gothic western flic...moreFun little late-seventies occult potboiler by the author of The Beguiled (you know, the one made into that odd 1971 Clint Eastwood gothic western flick). Much of the dialogue feels off here, especially for the younger characters, and none of the cast is terribly sympathetic, but things were interesting enough to keep me turning those pages and I just basically really enjoyed the whole thing. It took me back. Recommended for fans of old-school horror. (less)