It's the details, of course: the fat dried drip of paint on the bottom of an old hook in the ceiling, a piece of errant spaghetti clinging to the side...moreIt's the details, of course: the fat dried drip of paint on the bottom of an old hook in the ceiling, a piece of errant spaghetti clinging to the side of a pot in the sink, the shade of a lamp turned ever so slightly from one panel to the next (thus denoting the passing of time). These things are nearly impossible to capture with words; it's visual poetry.
Then the words themselves - incisive, breaking down complex interior rituals and patterns that we don't even realize we contemplate ourselves until we see them there on the page. Nobody can articulate the minute daily realities of loneliness like Mr. Ware can.
This is his best since "Jimmy Corrigan" and perhaps his best work yet.
One stupid criticism (since I'm sounding off amongst friends): Ware seems to have grown especially fond of rendering flooring as a black field with white specks around the edges. While this does impart a dose of realism (most floors do have at least a little bit of crud lying on them at any given time), the starkness of the white against the black makes it stand out too much.
I'll follow that up by noting that I can't draw worth a shit.
When I first read "Girl" I was fifteen, gay, closeted, and more than a little sexually repressed. Each month my friend Laurie would lend me the latest...moreWhen I first read "Girl" I was fifteen, gay, closeted, and more than a little sexually repressed. Each month my friend Laurie would lend me the latest issue of "Sassy" - I think she lent me this book, too. I remember finding Andrea's behavior shocking, and so far removed from my own high school experience that I wasn't sure if I believed it.
So it was pretty fun re-reading this book at age thirty. And kind of interesting to note that one of the central relationships in the book - that of Andrea and her (somewhat) closeted lesbian friend, Cybil - hadn't left an impression on me. Even though Cybil's sexual repression mirrored my own at the time.
I savored the language this time around, which (typical of Nelson) is blunt and authentic: "Afterward everyone hung out." And Andrea's somewhat dizzying string of relationships with both boys and girls feels real to me too (even though the names are a little hard to follow).
I can see myself re-reading this book every year or so, just to return to this world, now tinged with nostagia. High school. Mid-nineties. Sigh. Didn't seem like it at the time, but weren't those the days?(less)
Katherine Alice Applegate writes books for kids. In fact, K.A. Applegate writes a fuckload of books for kids - writes them as if it were a compulsion,...moreKatherine Alice Applegate writes books for kids. In fact, K.A. Applegate writes a fuckload of books for kids - writes them as if it were a compulsion, or perhaps an obsession.
In 1999 alone, she published twenty-two teen novels in the Animorphs, Everworld, and Making Out series. The year before that, she published eighteen novels. And that's just by my count. Now, obviously we're not talking about great American novels here (and, truth be told, she may not have written all of them herself). These are large-print teen novels of around a hundred pages. But the fact remains: bitch writes. A lot.
What happens when a writer takes license to exhume her child-like id into the form of hundreds of teen narratives, not unlike the proverbial monkey locked in a room with a typewriter? Well, it would seem that you get something like the Barf-O-Rama series, which Applegate wrote fifteen installments of in 1996-1997 under the pseudonym Pat Pollari.
The Barf-O-Rama books consist of just what the title would imply: they are structured around vomit scenes. They are vomit porn for pre-teens. Scenes are constructed just as the prototypical erotic scene is - the situation presented, the build-up, endless description, until the final, inevitable climax - an ejaculation of vomit instead of cum.
Of course, Applegate can't be entirely blamed for the series, as she did not conceive of it originally. The series was the brainchild of editor Ann Brashares - she of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. And though I've owned two Barf-O-Rama books for the past ten years, I only became aware that Applegate wrote them after coming across the first novel in her Ocean City series in the thrift store. That book was a sweet (though badly characterized) teen novel that gives little hint of what Applegate's alter ego is capable of.
Can I just say - these books are fucking disgusting. Though I used to get a kind of astonished kick from them in my late-teen years, I can barely look at the covers now.
As far as I know, there is nothing else like them. I don't know if they were popular, but one book in the series is going for an inexplicable $75.23 on Amazon. One reviewer writes, "If I had kids, I'd just as soon let them watch South Park or Showgirls before actually encouraging them to delve into this nonesense [sic]."
I see nothing wrong with kids reading this stuff, but he does have a point: Showgirls is a fucking awesome movie.(less)
This is a good example of just how deep young adult fiction (take that designation for what it's worth) can go. I wholly expected a creepy, exploitati...moreThis is a good example of just how deep young adult fiction (take that designation for what it's worth) can go. I wholly expected a creepy, exploitative tale not unlike "Flowers in the Attic," but what this book delivers is nothing less than a meditation on death and acceptance. There's some truly inspirational and wise stuff here.(less)