Tag Archives: comics

Misc. Ratings

Books

‘Bird Box’,  by Josh Malerman — 4

‘Asylum’, by Madeline Roux — 3.5

‘The Martian’, by Andy Weir — 5 !!!

‘Friendship’, by Emily Gould — 3.5

‘Gun Machine’, by Warren Ellis — 4

‘Virtual Light’, by William Gibson (reread) — 5

‘Pattern Recognition’, by William Gibson (reread) — 5

‘Ready Player One’, by Ernest Cline — 4.5

TV

True Detective (season 1) — 5 !!!

Masters of Sex (season 2) — 4

Film

House of Wax — 3

Mama — 3.5

Not much to note; have been getting some good reading in. Cannot overstate how good ‘The Martian’ is, better than all the hype had even lead me to believe it would be. So incredibly smart, funny, and well paced. Ready Player One was as well, a book I wish I had gotten around to reading sooner.  Warren Ellis’ latest was everything I hoped for — the man simply doesn’t know how to put bad writing out into the world. He’s just so damn funny, in the blackest way possible, and simply knows how to write a good story. I was building my altar to him after ‘Transmetropolitan’ back when I was 17, and he’s never once disappointed me since.  There’s something incredibly earnest about how he approaches writing and his readers, he’s simply harsh enough on himself that he’ll never let a piece of shit out and tell you it’s worth your time. If he puts his name on it, you’re going to get him at his best.

Reread a bit of Gibson as sort of an old ritual, as he has his latest coming out later this month. I don’t really mark my calendar for any writer except Murakami and Gibson. Everyone is I love is insanely great, but those two are floating in their own universe, and  getting new novels from both of them this year feels like winning the lottery to me. Was thinking of rereading the entire ‘Blue Ant’ trilogy, but I’d really like to clear off some other pressing to-reads, as after finishing Gibson’s new ‘The Peripheral’ I plan to very seriously set aside most if not all of my reading to focus on writing again. I’ve had a couple ideas really eating away at my skull the last few years. Not sure which I’m really feeling right now, but I’m starting to lean a bit, having begun spending my time (via catching up on Ellis’ newest comics work) with comics again. We’ll see.

Stopped very early in the ‘Under 40’ alt-lit anthology just because…I don’t know. I feel the ‘alt lit’ ‘thing’ here and there, it never seems to quite sustain for long. Then I caught the slightest whiffs of all the mega cluster-fuckery going around Tao Lin ant HTML giant and everything and I just didn’t feel like it. There’s great writing in this anthology and I plan to come back to it down the road, it’s just not ringing my bells right now.

I’m working through Yerra Sugarman’s ‘The Bag of Broken Glass’, but I only read it in the late hours when I feel most focused, and it’s easily the most emotionally charged poetry I’ve read in a very, very long time, maybe ever. It’s a truly heartbreaking collection and I just can’t read it quickly, so it’ll take a bit.

I don’t know what to say about True Detective (season 1). Like Breaking Bad, I was sure it was good and had heard enough about it from people whose taste I trust that I knew it’d be good, but I had no idea it’d be the truly dark and strange and perfect beast that it is. Whatever big awards it pulls in (especially MM) it absolutely deserves without reservation. It took me to places I hadn’t felt since maybe Twin Peaks. I think it may have shot it’s own load though, I don’t know if any further seasons will ever match the voodoo that season 1 did, but I’m happy to be proven wrong. Easily, easily the best writing / acting / direction of any TV show since Breaking Bad, hands down, no contest.

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Past Full of Prologues

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I’ve been thinking a lot recently, after having to move back home, about how and why it’s been particularly depressing to have no space to unpack all of my books. For the first time in my life I don’t have room for them all, 640 and counting, arranged sometimes with hazard and sometimes with care on a growing number of bookshelves, each literally sagging a bit at certain points. I remember when I first moved on campus at Notre Dame and decided against anything resembling sanity that I had to bring my entire library with me, hastily buying and erecting two tall bookshelves in the bedroom after having pushed the dresser I barely had use for into the closet to make room.

There’s a shallow pleasure to it, something almost purely visual in having all those spines staring back out at you, extravagantly colorful in some spots, plain and dustily, studious-seeming in others. Horrible genre fiction, the classics, modern experimental mindfucks, and comforting reads I’ve owned since before I was in high school. Pristine hardbacks I’ve yet to touch and crumbling mass market paperbacks that have actually begun to feel weighty with book tape.

I’ll cop to that forever, that visceral and silly pleasure, the way an array of books just feels intellectual and insane all at the same time. The pride of it, the intellectual vanity, I’m a Smart Person, this is a room where Important Thoughts Are Thought.

It does feel alien, then, like someone has died — I actually feel changed, having most of my books sitting in ragged boxes that barely held together through the most recent move, stored away in a part of the house I don’t even have ready access to most of the time. I realize this is a #FirstWorldProblem of a fairly high order, but it’s honest. There’s a lot of history in my books, and I don’t mean anything to do with what’s inside the covers. We’re each a microculture and you can tell a lot about a person by the books he keeps. I can remember where and when every single book was bought or received. The gifts, the books bought for a class (some I still despise, some that changed me at the core of my entire self). The books, too many to be sure, bought on a whim after some passing review or recommendation, grabbed used from Amazon and yet to be read.

The Murakami bought because an ex I was mad for said it was her favorite, and I puppy-love goofily asked her to inscribe it before she left on a trip, years later returned to her in anger and confusion and sadness. It was given back, then thrown away, and now haunts a very strange and selective internal shelf.

The Brian Jacques book that was leant to my best friend in high school and was returned two days before his terrible accident.

The Tolkien I sat awake three days with in the hospital waiting room before he moved on.

When someone asks who I am, what I do, what I enjoy, what scares me, what makes me  think it’s all worth anything at all, the only thing I can think to do is start curating a shelf or two of books that would be the best I could offer up as an honest answer. I want to edit together an anthology the way people used to make mixtapes.

 

Graphic Novel Review: ‘Wormwood, Gentleman Corpse’ vol. 1

Wormwood, Gentleman Corpse: Birds, Bees, Blood & Beer Wormwood, Gentleman Corpse: Birds, Bees, Blood & Beer by Ben Templesmith

My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
The story elements (plot, characters, dialogue, etc.) are very solid, often brilliantly funny yet never quite ‘comical’ to the point of being, in a sense, comfortable (which is a great thing, a hard thing to manage).

The art is absolutely on another level — worth 50 more stars and then some. As cliche as it is to say, it really must be seen to be properly experienced or even remotely understood.

Wormwood very much feels like a kind of bastard child (stated in the most complimentary sense) between Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series and Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis. I mean this in both aesthetic and literary senses. There seems to be a certain black, dry wit that these guys (Gaiman, Ellis, Templesmith) manage to pull off that is rare; it almost feels like a kind of grotesque (again, this is admirable), evolved version of what most people think of when thinking of ‘British humo(u)r’.

That all said, this is a gorgeous and absolutely visceral graphic novel. I’d never hope or think that the likes of Gaiman and Ellis are ‘done’ in this genre, far from it, but if Templesmith represents something of a new generation, we’re in good (decaying) hands.

I’m admittedly naive about how the graphic novel industry works, but these seems like a series just begging to get picked up by a major brand, specifically DC’s Vertigo imprint.

View all my reviews.