Right, I'm withholding the last star because the book didn't quite manage to live up to it's own expectation. However, I stayed up all night, reading...moreRight, I'm withholding the last star because the book didn't quite manage to live up to it's own expectation. However, I stayed up all night, reading about three quarters of it in one sitting, and it's been quite a while since I found myself so enthralled.
The book was more coherent than I thought it would be. Which probably sounds strange, considering. But it presents two, possibly three layered narratives. It's impressive. Though I did find myself skimming over the narrator's disjointed ramblings, finding myself far more interested in the story about the house itself.
On that note -- while the format of the book (as well as it's contents) renders the venture futile, I'd be thrilled to see someone attempt to recreate The Navidson Record, if only because de-fictionalization never fails to appease me.
From a casual flipping through, I was expecting the book to be more difficult to read. True, the [redacted] [ ]s drove me crazy. Not to mention matching up all the footnotes/symbols, which occasionally fell out of numerical order, or would be separated by several pages or would refer back to another etc etc. Probably the trickiest part of the book to read, for me, was the labyrinth chapter. But I love what the author did there, and for that, I don't mind the challenge.
The book itself spends most of the time mocking academic criticism, in a totally spot-on way. As a liberal-arts university student, who's been forced to listen to profs pontificate on symbolism that probably isn't there, or have trudged through questionable analysis for essay work, I much enjoyed the 700 pages giving a middle finger to that whole thing.
As well, the author understands that what we don't necessarily know about, but have hints, glimpses on, only makes things more fascinating. While sometimes I found myself wishing to know just what the house's deal was, ultimately, I'm glad we never got a full exposition/explanation of it. I found myself genuinely spooked, getting chills and worrying about being left in the dark, as if the act of reading it left myself vulnerable to the house.
Someone once mentioned it's impossible to read through this book without totaling your copy. While I never cracked the spine, and the damage is minimal, I did find myself to handle the book with far less delicacy than I usually do.
Ah, one last note -- probably the most touching part of the novel, for me, was the letters included in Appendix II, which were letters that were written by our narrator's mother, covering her life and their correspondences while she was institutionalized (for schizophrenia, maybe?) and he was being put through the wringer that produced the fucked up individual who pieced together the book for us.
Soooooo, yes! Very clever, and brilliant at accomplishing what it set out to do. A challenging read, but you get back what you put into it, I think, and I suspect I will find myself drawn back to visit the house in the future.(less)
For all the hype/exposure/familiarity 1984 gets in Western culture (and Brave New World, but to a lesser extent), I find it disheartening that "We" is...moreFor all the hype/exposure/familiarity 1984 gets in Western culture (and Brave New World, but to a lesser extent), I find it disheartening that "We" is much lesser known.
I certainly hadn't heard of it before I took the class that had me read it, and I find this depressing, considering the book was a major influence on Orwell's 1984, and by extension, Brave New World.
On that note, if you see anyone calling this a 1984 rip-off, tell them they're a fucking moron.
I really like the concepts in this book, though I found their execution to be a bit tiring. The main character is a wishy-washy guy who eventually dissolves into behaving like a cro-magnon. Since we learn of all the events from his point-of-view, the action often gets lost in his purple prose. Which gets old, fast.
So, yeah. Really interesting as pretty much The Classic dystopian, though I think I'll need to re-read it to figure out what actually happened.(less)
There are a lot of really interesting ideas here, especially considering when the book was written. But the endless preaching of info-dumps is t...moreTL;DR.
There are a lot of really interesting ideas here, especially considering when the book was written. But the endless preaching of info-dumps is tiring. Plus, there's the same old "travel to a new place, gosh their girls are pretty, oh look the love of my live!" romance side-plot.
It's especially squicky because the girl idolized him when growing up, and also partially believes herself [[SPOILERS]] to be the reincarnation of his past almost-wife. Which I find sad, because she should be her own person, not this distant figure.
I'm definitely going to have to come back and give this book a closer reading some time, but as it stands, getting through it was a chore.(less)
"Barbara" is a good read. I'm grateful for DGM for bringing it over, especially since the translation here is really organic. The front cover's graphi...more"Barbara" is a good read. I'm grateful for DGM for bringing it over, especially since the translation here is really organic. The front cover's graphic is amazing, and the softcover format/white pages really adds to the reading experience.
The book on it's own is very strong -- I'm always amazed by the versatility of Tezuka's art, in his backgrounds, the action scenes (I'm especially impressed by a chase scene that takes place towards the end of the book), how he switches between different art styles. Especially amazing is how he conveys Barbara, where she shifts between being a punkish kid, to a well-endowed woman, to the classic womenly seductress.
Where the book falls flat are the structure, and the themes.
Each of the chapters is an isolated incident, which makes it feel like there isn't a particular plot that the story is following. This is to be expected perhaps, since the story was originally released periodically, and it was maybe deliberate, as it's lampshaded later, but I still found it distracting.
As well, the story seems to be centralized around the figure of Barbara herself. Consequently, side themes like deviancy/perversity/unacceptable sexuality, the relative value of art and how it relies on popular responses, the fickleness of celebrity, and possibly something about politics -- fall by the wayside and become muddled.
There is a lot going on, and I'm not sure all of it is as well handled as most others seem to think it is.
Regardless of my critiques, Barbara is a solid, amazing work of manga/graphic fiction.(less)
"Raleigh is eighteen years old, and she has no idea what she's doing. If you've ever been eighteen, or confused, or both, maybe you should read this b...more"Raleigh is eighteen years old, and she has no idea what she's doing. If you've ever been eighteen, or confused, or both, maybe you should read this book."
I first saw this book on amazon, and then came across it in Chapters. After reading the above blurb, and being eighteen and subject to frequent existential angst, I decided to buy a copy.
It's a strange book. Raleigh goes to California, and then catches a ride back with three people she vaguely knows from high school. As they meander their way back to Canada (more or less), we come to find out why Raleigh came to California, and why she thinks a cat took her soul.
The prose is very stream of consciousness, lovely in it's own way but a bit of a headache to read. The art feels a bit crowded, because of how thick the lines are, but I like the different ways the narrative and dialogue are conveyed. Also, the backgrounds are really well done, as are the characters' expressions. As for the story... It's a bit convoluted, and Raleigh is hardly a reliable narrator, so I don't think I entirely got what was going on.
I don't think it helped with my existential angst either. But it was interesting, and I have a feeling I'll be coming back to it, so I'm glad I bought it.(less)
Definitely a challenge to read, and it's always odd to go back to game-changers when you're already used to the concepts they invented. I can't claim...moreDefinitely a challenge to read, and it's always odd to go back to game-changers when you're already used to the concepts they invented. I can't claim to have followed everything (the plot was a bit convoluted, and folded it on itself), and the ending left me dissatisfied, but I did ultimately enjoy it.(less)