February 18, 2014

Gaiman and McKean's Violent Cases:

Basically, all I have to say is this.  You have an exceptional storyteller meeting up with an awesome artist creating a work of art for your enjoyment.  You would be remiss if you did not go out and buy this or steal this or rent it.  For a final bonus, the title is a clever pun that made me laugh.

Dennis Johnson's Nobody Move:

If you’re like me, you didn’t know Dennis Johnson had written anything since Tree of Smoke.  If you’re still like me, you didn’t realize that that book was released in 2007, and you worry about the increasing speed of the passage of time.  

But I was wrong.  Since then he has released this neat little noir book.  There’s a fun mix-up with money and dames and guns.  My initial impression, when I was just a few pages in, was in how tight it was written – no superfluous words or description – like Hemingway meet Spillane.  It allows Johnson to tell his story in less than two hundred pages and still pack in a lot of action.

It is not needlessly edited though, you can tell a lot of work went into this spare novel.  My favorite is the detail he uses.  The best example is narrating from one person’s perspective; he notes that there is a car part on top of the jukebox.  A second person, in a later scene, notices the car part, but he knows just what that part is meant for.  That is a master class in characterization and plotting that can feel like a throw-away detail, but it shows what a craftsman Johnson is. 

Wilson and Shimojima's The 47 Ronin:

I picked up this book because of the recent movie on the subject, and I thought a graphic novel would be a quick way to get the gist of the story.  If you want to know, I will relate the gist here: The Japaneese are Serious about honor.  I mean, really, really serious. 

Iweala Uzodinma's Beasts of No Nation:

                The main character of this book, is Agu, a child soldier.  In a first person narrative he tells of his recruitment as a soldier and the abuses he gives and the abuses he suffers.  It is well written, but the plot falls into one of those one-darn-thing-after-another traps.  There is no hope for anything better, and the reader is as trapped as Agu.  

                One thing that is interesting to me though, and something I might drop in a class is how authenticity plays a role in the reader’s enjoyment of the book.  I got to a point about half-way through where I was curious how much of this is grounded in truth, and I then looked up the author’s biography.  I felt a little betrayed knowing that he had not been a child soldier, and I started enjoying the book less.  I don’t know what that says about me as a reader, or about this book as a text, but it did make me think of how much more impact a “True” story has.  So even though this is “true” in general, and I’m sure Iweala did his homework, I feel my experience of the book is compromised.  You may not have that.

February 12, 2014


To prove

My love

And faith

To you.

I buy

This over-
Sized teddy
Bear and