Apr. 19th, 2017

marlowe1: (Teddy Bear)
32. Ufology by James Tynion & Noah Yuenkel - I liked this book. I didn't get this book. I liked this book but it felt like Lost in the middle when there were all these great mysteries and like fuck if you were ever going to figure them out. There are aliens who keep wearing the bodies of humans and there are a lot of fires and something has something to do with the past. I find it very strange mostly because it appears like it's a standalone book even though there seems to be some kind of a long series with a bunch of sequels to explain it. I think I would have liked it better if it felt like a complete story and not some attempt to create a multi-part series.

33. The Flowers of Evil, vol 3 by Shuzo Oshimi - I see this one as having potential even though it does present the classic male fantasy dilemma of two gorgeous women just totally want to be with him. One is really sad and not fleshed out at all and the other one is pissed off. The pissed off one is the more interesting one of course, and so when he decides to leave town and go over the mountain, she's the one he goes with. But then the boring crying one comes along to bring him back. The back cover blurb says that this is much more true than most books where teenage boys are tortured by angry over-sexed teenage girls. I did not know that this was a genre.
marlowe1: (high school reunion)
34. Village of Stone by Xiaolu Guo - One of the hardest things about reviewing books is just how hard it is to review a book that you love. What's even worse is the fact that now I want to read everything by Xiaolu Gao and she even has a couple movies with only one on DVD that is playable in the U.S. (UFO in her eyes). This is the first book and it's beautiful. I know it's a translation so I am also praising Cindy Carter, but it's like there isn't a line or a sentence wasted and every word is measured. The story itself is hard to describe well because on the surface it's about a woman living in Beijing with her boyfriend and remembering her time in a small village in the family that was the outcast family because her grandmother was an outsider and her father ran off. The main action in the present is the fact that these two characters receive an eel and while it stinks up their apartment, they realize that it's expensive so they slowly eat it. The past is full of sexual abuse and silence where a girl can get kidnapped and raped and held against her will and when she escapes no one seems to care.

One critic compared it to a dream.

35. The Pursuit of Happiness by Anne Roiphe - One of the characters turns out to be Roy Cohn. That was the only part that annoyed me. The character begins as a brat kid who lies about stealing and gets a nod of approval from his mother, shows up in the 1950s as an anti-Communist who is very dangerous and then dies of AIDS in the last chapters with his cats all going to a shelter to die. Did Roy Cohn have cats that were put down after he died? What the fuck? The rest of the book is surprisingly engaging as Anne Ropiphe gives us a multi-generational family that sneaks on over from the old country (the matriarch steals diamonds to get to America and then keeps the diamonds that show up whenever horrible things happen in the book). The framing story is a mother worried about her daughter in Israel and only in the last few pages do you find out why the daughter gets shot while the mother is almost a footnote in her own story. There's a lot of "dear reader, do you judge this character harshly" wording which gets a little grating, but somehow it all holds together.

Oddly enough, family trees seem like the literary equivalent of maps.
marlowe1: (Serenity)
36. Superman The Man of Steel vol. 9 by Jerry Ordway, John Byrne, Roger Stern & Paul Kupperberg, etc. - In the 1990s, DC killed off Superman which led to consternation and tearing of hair from some who liked the movies and a giant yawn (followed by a "hey let's buy those issues so they are collectible" slobbering) among those who read comic books. Superman was a terrible title and had been a terrible title for years. There was nothing interesting about Superman and writers didn't know how to make him interesting. The fun days of the 1960s when Superman was having identity crises and playing with weird kryptonite. This book is so fucking boring. I actually kind of appreciate John Byrne who has that "also ran" status in the history of modern comics. He was never going to be a pioneer but when he was popular he was the most popular. And then Todd McFarlane made his style even more bendy and Todd McFarlane's imitators totally fucked around with perspective (Oh yeah, Liefeld). But at least Byrne's stories don't make me hate the characters. And there are less shots of Superman standing in a static formation and shaking his fist in an effort to say that he is going to avenge the deaths of all the humans on the alternate-but-not-quite-alternate earth. At a certain point the book has panels that cross the spine so that there are two page stories because why not confuse the readers? Something about Supergirl but she's not the real Supergirl. She's an alien mutant turned into Supergirl.

I was much more pissed off about this book when I read it a week ago, but Pesach has been long and my legs are sore so I have it in front of me and I can't remember the sheer boredom of reading it.

37. The Book of Ballads by Charles Vess and various authors - This book's TOC is like a who's who of 1990s fantasy authors. You have Emma Bull, Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint and Jane Yolen. And yet, I find that I am sick of Charles Vess. His cross cut art is so twee and full of small nose clones. What makes it worse is the fact that while ballads may be great stories, they are only great stories because someone sings them. It's not enough to take them and put them in literary format, draw pictures and call it a day. Also the authors might be trying to expand on them (some are. Others just leave the words there and let Vess illustrate) but never enough to flesh them out. As much as we find ballads fascinating we like a lot of songs as stories and no one wants to see an illustrated version of Darling Nikki either (ok I want to see an illustrated version of Darling Nikki).

38. The Black Dragon by Chris Claremont and John Bolton - I looked up John Bolton and saw that he illustrated the first Book of Magic in the Neil Gaiman mini-series. I didn't mind him in that one, but Bolton needs color to really express himself. Or to properly express himself. With black and white, his stuff just gets all shadowy and dark and while this is a comic about a dude who is a gargoyle/dragon and somehow also the soul of Britain and if only his best friend would stop turning him into the gargoyle thing he would be much better at things. But this is Chris Claremont and the cheesiness of the book can only be that much more cheesy. The plot is based on flat characters being all moody and conspiracy doing. Also Britain. And Robin Hood. Because why the fuck not?


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Tim Lieder

September 2017

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