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What, is this nothing but comics?
The short answer is no. But don't blink or you'll miss the evidence.
096) The Unsinkable Walker Bean and the Knights of the Waxing Moon by Aaron Renier, finished August 24
This books is so bananas. It's so strange, so weird. And although I don't understand it, it makes sense. I know it knows and I trust it.
I liked the first one but this volume is even more ambitious (and insane). We have animals made out of stars and doppelgangers and magic alloys and granddaughters of Neptune and ghosts rising from folktales and a floating city and visions and evil kings and all that just makes this book sound borderline ordinary. Believe me when I tell you it is not.
It is something else.
one marathon sitting
097)Just Julie's Fine by Theric Jepson, finished August 26
This was my last chance to do any edits prior to publication. I couldn't imagine there was anything left to catch but I ended up reading the entire novel anyway. I found about a dozen tiny errors still extant. Which means there's probably a dozen more I missed.
Editing is hard.
But I can announce that this book's pretty good. I don't know what you'll think but hoo. I enjoyed it.
098)Bea Wolf by Zach Weinersmith and Boulet, finished August 28
I loved this. I knew it was based on Beowulf and I know Weinersmith and I expected something more dumb than anything else.
That's not what I got.
He's taken the story of Beowulf and transposed it to the world of suburban childhood, bringing fantasies child me had to life but in the glories of Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse.
Last year I had a work published that fits that same description and I can tell you that there is something intensely natural (which is not to say easy) about embracing the pre-Norman forms of English poetry. To embrace alliteration and kenning and just go for it. And that's what Weinersmith does here. And it is glorious. And you can tell he respects kids. Why else throw out words like thole?
And Boulet's art is manic and heroic and absurd. It ties into classic looks of Grendel while staying true to Bea Wolf's own unique conceits.
And then the short essay at the end about Beowolf and the poetry and the process is likewise intelligent and carries a high opinion of child readers and is funny and insightful and, honestly, I suspect this book will make some writers. And baby am I excited to see their work appear twenty years from now.
A total success.
And I am delighted to tell you that just the other day Lady Steed saw someone on her free group looking for a large stuffed bear that could be gutted because her daughter is planning her Bea Halloween costume.
This is as it should be.
099)Assassinistas by Tini Howard / Gilbert Hernandez / et al., finished August 31
I guess you could call this a fun little satirical look at the American violent-story tradition. It did have some cool elements but it just didn't come together for me.
a week or more
100)Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons by Kelly Sue DeConnick / Phil Jimenez / Gene Ha / Nicola Scott, finished August 31
This is one of the most astonishing comics I've read in some time. It amazes on practically every page.
There are a few reasons for this. Let's start that it feels real. By which I mean these spins on ancient Greek myth carry genuine mythic weight and seem true in a deep and meaningful way. These are stories you can believe in. And they explode the Amazon-based mythos of the Wonder Woman universe in awesome ways. The characters birthed here I reckon will be with us a long long time.
The art has depth and rigor. I'm grateful for the brief notes in the back because there I discovered how little I was even seeing. Read this book with good lighting and perhaps a magnifying glass. There is much to find here.
In short it is beautiful and moving and deadly dangerous. This book is not here to play games.
You don't have to care half a whit about superheros to love this story.
two days, possibly not back-to-back
101)The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman et al., finished September 6
I read the original Sandman run in the early Oughts, but I didn't read them in order and I frankly don't know if I read them all. I've always intended to start over at the beginning, but just have not.
But I have a son I thought would like them so I got the first two from the library. Dad's suggestion didn't take but, hey, the first two volumes of Sandman!
You know what? I think the time has come.
The first volume does read like the team figuring out what they're doing, but the gist is right and I'm excited to rediscover where it goes from here.
102)Slapstick, or Lonesome No More! by Kurt Vonnegut, finished September 11
Now that I'm back to teaching Vonnegut, I'm hopping back on my novel-a-summer routine. I don't have many left to firsttime as you can see:
This is not one of the better ones.
Honestly, it feels like something that should have been published posthumously. It has a lot of great Vonnegut spark and plenty of (half-developed) ideas, but it never congeals into a novel and it ends in such a way that makes me feel like he just lost interest in it.
Plus, there is some racial stuff that is satirical, sure, but for every bit that is arguably antiracist, there are ten that just feel racist here in 2023. I would be shocked if that were his intention, but, well, you can't always control how your stuff will be read.
Plus, this is the 2019 Vintage edition and I don't know if it was just the process of changing the punctuation to be more British, but there are several punctuation and other typesetting errors. It's hard to believe that this could happen at a major house to a major author's 47yrold book. How? How? How?
a couple months or even more even though it's quite short