A haunting book which would be of interest to adults as well as young people. For some reason, the story made me think of Victor Hugo and his magnum oA haunting book which would be of interest to adults as well as young people. For some reason, the story made me think of Victor Hugo and his magnum opus, Les Miserables. There is a man whose punishment outweighs the wrong he has done. There are forlorn beggars, wandering children, and orphans in convents. All this makes for plenty of pathos, but there are also lots of humorous touches too. The illustrations add to the enchantment of the narrative....more
Review copy kindly donated by author and GR friend Jack Croxall.
This collection of flash fiction is so short that it can be read in one sitting, butReview copy kindly donated by author and GR friend Jack Croxall.
This collection of flash fiction is so short that it can be read in one sitting, but it is proof that stories don't have to be long to be good. They catch and hold the reader's interest. We hear from a variety of narrators. There is a blend of tones and moods that come through as well, ranging from humour to tragedy.
My favorite stories were "Dylan" because of its quirky take on the paranormal, and "Space Dementia(¿)" [sic] because of its blend of irony and drama.
Some of the stories left me wondering what actually happened. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if it makes the reader do a little work. But (especially in the case of "Space Dementia(¿)") it leaves me wanting more and wishing that Jack could have carried the narrative a bit farther or expanded the back stories. ...more
Autographed review copy provided by author and Goodreads friend Christopher Conlon.
This is a collection of "uncollected" works which did not make it iAutographed review copy provided by author and Goodreads friend Christopher Conlon.
This is a collection of "uncollected" works which did not make it into other books or anthologies. In the rare cases where they did, they have been somewhat neglected.
The individual pieces cross forms and boundaries. One can find a short story, flash fiction, a short play, poetry and literary criticism.
The title story, "Wild Tracks," a tragic and brutal coming of age tale, contains themes which I have noticed in Conlon's more recent work and got under my skin immediately. Some of the flash fiction has been reworked for his anthology "Herding Ravens."
One piece, "Proust in Africa," tells the story of Conlon's first encounter with the longest novel ever written, and how it affected his life during a tour of duty with the Peace Corps in Botswana. After reading this online in 2012, I took the plunge and read Proust myself in 2013. So now, on rereading this essay, I have a better understanding of what Conlon is talking about when he describes the aspects and episodes that made a deep and lasting impression on him. (And I love how he reworks one of these episodes in his poem "Soweto," one of several poems on his life in Africa.)
In Conlon's novels (and even in this collection), his characters often suffer severely because of the trauma they endured as children at the hands of dysfunctional parents or care-givers. In a series of gritty and gut-wrenching poems, he explores the history of his own family and acknowledges the factors which formed and deformed them.
Also remarkable is a series of poems treating the story of Anne Frank. These poems are not the kind of tributes one would expect a poet to give to the famous victim of the Holocaust. Instead most of them, by adopting an unusual point of view, give a damning indictment of those who perpetrated the crime which, despite its murderous effects, could not hush up the young girl's message.
With self-deprecating humor, Chris described this book to me as "a banquet of scraps." Even if a few of the morsels may be a bit challenging to chew on, in the end they make a memorable meal. ...more
This graphic novel, a story without words, contains some amazing art but a rather confusing plot. A man, his wife and their daughter take their belongThis graphic novel, a story without words, contains some amazing art but a rather confusing plot. A man, his wife and their daughter take their belongings and move from their home to a new country. This involves some arduous traveling, first by train and then by ship. They arrive in a place whose main features seem to be weird architecture and slightly monstrous animals evocative of Hieronymus Bosch. One of these beasties, an odd but harmless sort of porpoisish-lizardish-rattish creature, becomes something akin to a family dog. They make friends with another family who has a dorsal-plated cat--which thankfully does not feel any antagonism toward the "dog."
I wanted to be wildly enthusiastic about this book. After all, I really do think that the author-illustrator's artistic talent is simply enormous. His images, ranging from black and white to a sort of sepia, sometimes have a photograph-like quality. His larger pictures, especially his cloudscapes, were especially impressive. There was a wide range of emotions expressed, and the animals, despite their bizarre appearances, were mostly humorous and likeable. However, I think I would have liked a little more guidance in understanding what exactly was going on....more