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What are you reading? 
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Post Re: What are you reading?
I'm in the middle of "The Warmth of Other Suns," by Isabel Wilkerson, an examination of the great migration of African Americans from the southern U.S. to other parts of the country during the period from about WWI to the mid-1970s. It's far from a dry scholarly work. Instead, it focuses on three specific individuals, letting their stories shine a light on the six million others who followed similar paths.

Excellent: read it if you get the chance.


Fri Feb 04, 2011 10:20 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
Ken wrote:
Asterios Polyp

Citizen Kane is widely regarded as a great film, if not the greatest film, mainly because it wears its technique on its sleeve. Attentive viewers can spot its visual strategies right away, because it does not attempt to hide them. Everything hangs out. Yet, viewers cannot dismiss Citizen Kane as cleverness for the sake of cleverness, because it uses those strategies so integrally to tell the story. Citizen Kane, more than any other film, is vindication that form and content are one and the same. The story it tells is fairly basic, the sort that has likely been with humankind since the beginning. The genius lies within HOW the story is told.

But this isn't about Citizen Kane. This is about Asterios Polyp, a graphic novel (and yes, it thoroughly earns the distinction) by master comic artist David Mazzuchelli. The titular character, Asterios, is a middle-aged "paper architect." He has earned acclaim for his daring designs, but none of them has actually been built. This brilliant book is his story.

The artwork is mainly rendered in the clear-line style, reminiscent of Tintin. By almost exclusively using lines of equal weight, Mazzuchelli is able to present the world of the story in elegant detail. There are moments, significantly few in number, when he deliberately departs from this. In these sequences, Mazzuchelli renders each character in a different art style appropriate to their individual personalities. Rather than merely showing off his considerable command of a wide range of drawing techniques, Mazzuchelli is revealing character through the visuals.

Asterios, for example, is an architect. Architecture informs his thinking, and therefore his self-image. In these moments, Asterios is rendered as a simplified 3D wireframe, similar in appearance to a wooden drawing doll. The character Hana is an artist. Rather than the clear, defined 3D outline of Asterios, Hana is rendered in these moments with rich, dynamic crosshatching. The way Mazzuchelli plays with the overlap of different styles as his characters interact with one another is one of the many show-stopping stylistic strategies of this book.

(It is worth noting that there are other, more subtle departures from the clear-line style that runs through most of the book. Hana's face, for example, is drawn quite delicately, and her body shape is often accentuated through varying line weight. Kudos to Mazzuchelli for allowing himself to cheat on his chosen style where cheating was warranted.)

The main character, like the book that bears his name, is obsessed with the relationship of form and function. Without giving too much away, the story is about how that obsession affects his life and his interaction with those around him. If that all sounds very cerebral, it is because the book very well might have been. But Mazzuchelli has obvious affection for his cantankerous leading man, investing his story with plenty of heart. Asterios takes a rocky journey through life and love that will be immediately identifiable to anybody who has experience in either of those areas.

As a final note, let me just say that the logo design on the cover is fantastic. Overlaid on the plain white background are two layers of translucent color--a cyan one with a winding, angular cut-out, and a magenta one with cut-outs of simple shapes. These two heavily abstracted layers are piled upon one another to form the title of the book. The adherence to just the handful of primary printing colors continues into the book proper. Magenta, cyan, and yellow on white. No black. Color is too often used in flashy and gimmicky ways in comics, struggling to compete in a marketplace that favors he who shouts the loudest. But David Mazzuchelli has other considerations on his mind.


Don't know how I missed this... sorry, man. You know I read this based on my reading of Maus? I aspire to, one day, do a comparison of Maus, From Hell and Asterios Polyp in terms of of their influences and stylistic/literary similarities. Maybe you'll beat me to the fruit punch.

Prior to writing anything more on the title (Ken appears to have covered it) lemme throw out another mention of Nabokov's Pnin, one clear influence of Asterios Polyp.


Sun Feb 06, 2011 2:51 am
Post Re: What are you reading?
The Tao of Wu by The RZA

A little over 80 pages and I'm already declaring this is to be one of the best music bios I've ever read. It may even be as good as Motley Crue's "The Dirt" but I'll make that decision when I finished it.


Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:59 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
Patrick wrote:
The Tao of Wu by The RZA

A little over 80 pages and I'm already declaring this is to be one of the best music bios I've ever read. It may even be as good as Motley Crue's "The Dirt" but I'll make that decision when I finished it.

Guns And Roses also had a pretty good biography called "The Band That Time Forgot"


Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:11 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
The Four Fingers of Death by Rick Moody.

In terms of description, it's about a writer 10-15 years in the future who writes a sci-fi book about several astronauts on Mars (first part) and the thing they discover there (covered in detail i nthe second part through a completely different cast of characters). The writer seems to be a framing device, before jumping into the astronauts getting to mars in a story that reminds me a helluva lot like Sunshine, but considerably better executed and with more depth and emotion. The sudden turns of perspective in the second half is throwing me off though (seriously, you jump from a NASA program coordinater to a microbiologist in maybe three pages, to the microbiologist's son in the next three pages, to a random 2nd amendment supporter to the program coordinator's underling in the next three pages. It's really not an easy read, especially in the beginning part with the author going into tangents. Still, its quite ambitious and has a lot of ideas so I'll stick with it.


Fri Feb 25, 2011 12:29 am
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Post Re: What are you reading?
Just re-read Don DeLillo's Libra. Fantastic prose and very interesting take on the JFK assasination.

Now working on The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris. Pretty good so far. Having read his other novel Then We Came To The End, I must say that Ferris is shaping up to be one of the most interesting working American writers today. I like him way better than Jonathan Franzen.

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Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:27 pm
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Post Re: What are you reading?
I'm in the middle of Lawrence Block's "Matthew Scudder" series. Excellent crime fiction, with a well-developed character.


Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:54 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
I recently rediscovered my local library and went to find a couple of quick reads...

Thanks to a recent watching of Midnight in Paris, I went looking for some Hemingway. Landed on Old Man and the Sea. I like Hemingway's style of writing. It's sparse, yet evocative. Was a solid, good novella.

I also took out Persepolis. Having heard of comparisons to Maus, I thought I should read it. Plus, there's the movie that's out that I'd like to watch after the fact.

I know...not the most hardcore of reading, but like I said...quick reads was what I wanted.


Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:35 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
ram1312 wrote:
I recently rediscovered my local library and went to find a couple of quick reads...

Thanks to a recent watching of Midnight in Paris, I went looking for some Hemingway. Landed on Old Man and the Sea. I like Hemingway's style of writing. It's sparse, yet evocative. Was a solid, good novella.

I also took out Persepolis. Having heard of comparisons to Maus, I thought I should read it. Plus, there's the movie that's out that I'd like to watch after the fact.

I know...not the most hardcore of reading, but like I said...quick reads was what I wanted.


Dude...stop making excuses and stop diminishing the quality of what you're consuming. Both book have good reputations and are supposed to be quality reads. I'd happily read either of them if I got the chance.

Persepolis (the movie, not the comic) was really good too (I gave it the same rating as fellow Animated Oscar nominee Ratatouille). Of course, if you read the comic first you might end up hating the movie, but that happens with most literature adaptations.


Tue Jun 21, 2011 4:14 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
Jeff Wilder wrote:
Now working on The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris. Pretty good so far. Having read his other novel Then We Came To The End, I must say that Ferris is shaping up to be one of the most interesting working American writers today. I like him way better than Jonathan Franzen.


Franzen and Ferris don't take on the same themes nor do they bear any stylistic similarity. Why bother comparing? Franzen isn't some sacred cow. But, you know, I like Campbell's Soup more than the novels of Jonathan Franzen so maybe I'm all out of whack.

Anyhow, I've been reading through Jennifer Egan's back catalog in order to try to find out why she won the Pulitzer for her obnoxious/interesting/meh novel A Visit From the Good Squad... could it have been given for a solid 15 or so years of achievement? The evidence thus far says "No". I'm on Look At Me right now and plan on moving to a completely different author in the next few days.


Sun Jul 10, 2011 5:31 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
Kinski Uncut.

After years of searching I find a copy at the Phoenix Public Library. Fun times. Read it.


Fri Jul 15, 2011 1:14 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
Dance With Dragons - George R.R. Martin

The Song of Ice and Fire saga continues, and damn, was this book ever worth the wait. In fact, the only bad thing is that we now have to wait for book 6, damnit. For my more detailed thoughts, see the Game of Thrones thread in the Television sub-forum.


Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:01 pm
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Post Re: What are you reading?
Working on That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo.

Third Russo book I've read (after Empire Falls and The Risk Pool). So far shaping up to be pretty good, albeit not quite on the level of the previous two.

_________________
This ain't a city council meeting you know-Joe Cabot

Cinema is a matter of what's in the frame and what's out-Martin Scorsese.

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1347771599


Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:11 am
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Post Re: What are you reading?
Currently reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.


Sun Aug 14, 2011 6:03 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
Ah, I've neglected this thread. I just started Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure and I'm liking what I read. I did expect something more controversial though. So far it's a very moral work. That's surprising.


Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:48 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
ed_metal_head wrote:
ram1312 wrote:
I recently rediscovered my local library and went to find a couple of quick reads...

Thanks to a recent watching of Midnight in Paris, I went looking for some Hemingway. Landed on Old Man and the Sea. I like Hemingway's style of writing. It's sparse, yet evocative. Was a solid, good novella.

I also took out Persepolis. Having heard of comparisons to Maus, I thought I should read it. Plus, there's the movie that's out that I'd like to watch after the fact.
Oi
I know...not the most hardcore of reading, but like I said...quick reads was what I wanted.


Dude...stop making excuses and stop diminishing the quality of what you're consuming. Both book have good reputations and are supposed to be quality reads. I'd happily read either of them if I got the chance.

Persepolis (the movie, not the comic) was really good too (I gave it the same rating as fellow Animated Oscar nominee Ratatouille). Of course, if you read the comic first you might end up hating the movie, but that happens with most literature adaptations.

Dammit...i just saw this Ed. Sorry man.

Have to say...yes, they were quality reads for me.

Haven't watched Persepolis yet since my library doesn't have Persepolis 2. Can you believe that?

I'm tempted to blind check out your current read just cuz...


Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:18 am
Post Re: What are you reading?
Citizen Vince by Jess Walter: 4.5/5
Excellent prose and setting (my hometown of Spokane, WA). Definitely recommended

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin: 5/5
I got the book after watching season one of the series. And I still loved it. Currently reading A Clash of Kings. I love how rich the world that Martin created is, and can't wait to read the whole series (whenever the last two books come out, of course)


Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:48 pm
Post Re: What are you reading?
Just finished reading Marvelman--specifically, Alan Moore's run on Marvelman.

Some background:

Marvelman was a British comic book in the 1950s. He was a blatant knockoff of Captain Marvel, who, in turn, was a blatant knockoff of Superman. Marvelman's gimmick was that he was an ordinary teenage newsboy named Micky Moran, who was given the power to change into an atomic-themed superhero by saying the magic word "Kimota!" (That's a phonetic backward reading of "atomic", in case the obvious has eluded you.) In the mid-'60s, the character lapsed into disuse.

Moore, while still an up-and-coming young gun working in British comics, joked in an interview that he'd like to do a Marvelman revival as his next project. He was approached by someone who had acquired the rights and offered the chance to do it for real, which he accepted. In 1982, he started his story with an adult Micky Moran, wracked with amnesia, migraine headaches, and persistent dreams of flying.

What ensues is the Moore's first ever effort at both revising a fundamentally flawed character (predating Swamp Thing) and deconstructing the archetypal superhero (predating Watchmen). It's a very strong book, which gets right down to the business of what might happen if a superhero did show up in our midst with an agenda to solve all our problems. It is significant that this is not a status quo comic book. The world at the end of the final issue (#16) is a very different place from the world at the beginning.

This is perhaps the work that enabled Moore to get on with his more tangential ideas about superheroes and their effect on the world in his later work (Watchmen, Supreme, et al), given that he had already gotten his most direct deconstruction out of the way with this one. It is essential reading for fans of his work, though some of it may feel staid due to the huge number of stories that it has inspired in the years since.

Image


Fri Aug 19, 2011 12:59 am
Post Re: What are you reading?
I've been reading several books in Garth Ennis's run on The Punisher. So far i've been pretty impressed by what i've read, he can go from black comedy to tragedy in a heartbeat, and it dosen't feel the least bit forced, so far i've read "War Zone: Welcome Back Frank" "MAX: Kingpin" "MAX:Barracuda" and "MAX:Bullseye" Next on my list is "War Zone: Resurrection Of Ma Gnucci"


Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:40 am
Post Re: What are you reading?
Tor!: The Story of German Football by Ulrich Hesse-Lichtenberger

The title is self-explanatory. So far this is a great read minus the author's use of phrases like "as we will see" and "as we have seen". Nothing major but things like this always rub me the wrong way. I prefer to read a history not to read a history that comes across as someone talking to me directly from time to time. Oh well, a minor criticism.


Sat Aug 20, 2011 10:53 am
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