April 18, 2016

Julian Hanshaw’s "Tim Ginger"

I don’t know how to put this in a way that doesn’t seem like a back-hand compliment, so I’m just going to say that I really liked this book. What made it stand out is the story about love and mystery and fighter jets and loss. The art sort of takes a back seat until the very end, which is what makes it feel back-handed. “Good job, Mr. Graphic Novelist”. That art didn’t really stand out.

But the story fits the genre and is necessary for the cool moment at the end whicih is the payoff for the rest of the book. Overall, a worthy read.

Ted Rall’s “Bernie”

Of all the major party candidates in my lifetime, there has been none who have come as close to my politics as he has. I voted for him in my state’s primary. But I’m not passionate for him. I guess it’s the thing of having to be pragmatic and running in the two-party system that makes me mad. The electoral system is so rotten that even a sitting senator has to run within the party system to get media coverage and that weird circular legitimacy. Where you’re not important if you don’t have coverage and you can’t get coverage if you’re not important.

And I like Ted Rall’s work, so this book is right up my alley. Most of it is a biography of Bernard, but it starts out with a long gloss on the history of politics for the last 40 years or so. Rall’s trying to make the case towards someone like me, who is sympathetic but has doubts. Like I said, I voted for Bernie, but I haven’t volunteered or give him any money. Maybe I’m just being too cynical.  Maybe this will start a movement, or maybe the Republicans will win with Ted in the fall and the Democratic insiders will make the argument that the party needs more pre-surrenders on policy positons preferred by the far left.

April 7, 2016

Books to Pass Along: On Jenny Lawson

Specifically, this is about "Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)"

I had never heard of Jenny Lawson, but I read her new book in 2016 after reading the reviews on Amazon and thinking that I should read her work. So I bought that one and read it quickly, and I laughed and laughed much much more than I normally do for books, even humor books.

So of course I had to buy her other book that predated that one. And so I did, and I read it and I laughed and laughed, but not quite as much as I did with the other one. I’m not sure if that is chalked up to laughing fatigue or if the newer one is really better.

I think it comes down to a couple of things. This one is more real. Where Furiousley Happy is a bit more light-hearted, this speaks directly to the author’s mental illness(s), and it makes it a bit harder to laugh with/at her. The second is that there is a good chance that she found her voice and is more confident with it.

Neither of which is to denigrate this book. It is still funny and fun to read and I am going to pass it on to my friends. But when I do, I’ll just have to say how much the other one is better when they give this back to me with a smile on their face.

Bill Griffith's "Invisible Ink": Compelling Story Well Told

I have moved around a lot, but there was only a little bit of time in my life when I came across zippy the Pinhead. I never really liked it. Maybe I came around to it too late or too soon in my life. But that doesn’t matter. This book isn’t about that character. It’s about another character, this a different comic artist who I had never heard of.

It’s actually a compelling story, and well told by Griffith. I mean, If I were to write a whole book about my mom stepping out on my dad for years and years, I’d want to makes sure I did it really well. Because that’s the thing. The impetus for this book is that the artist’s mom had an longstanding affair with the cartoonist and the cartoonist of the book is writing about it. And I just realied how Oedipal that is. Ew ew ew ew.

Birth of a Nation(s): "Democracy" by Papadatos et al.

I picked this up off the shelf because I liked the previous work by the authors, “Logicomix”. I liked that one so much I went out and bought a book of Wittgenstein and then also of Bertrand Russel. I actually read the Russel, maybe I’ll get to the Ludwig.

So reading this was basically in comparison to that book, and in comparison, this one suffers a bit. The authors’ thing is graphic history, and it works to a point. My guess is that this one is not as effective because though there is an interesting story to tell, there are fewer points of reference for me as a modern reader and there are fewer primary texts for the authors to draw on. They also insert a fictional character as the vehicle for they story they are telling, so that the both of democracy has some eyes looking at it and the reader can relate to that person.

I’m not sure if it works and it implies a linearity to the development of democracy that might not be true. Overall, the book could compliment a high school civics class as a way to lighten the mood and engage the students, but it isn’t history in the terms of this is what happened (if even that is history at all either).

When is a Campaign Book Not a Campaign Book?: Thomas Frank's "Listen Liberal"

The cover is still blurbing Frank for “What’s the matter with Kansas,” as if he hasn’t written other books since then, but I bet that is the one that keeps funding his lavish liberal lifestyle – wait, not liberal but something more than that. Lefter than that.


This was interesting for me to read since it is basically an anti-Hillary book, but it doesn’t mention the guy she’s running against for her party’s nomination. I just looked, and that guy (whatever his name is) isn’t even listed in the index. I’m not sure how conscious of a choice that was, but if she doesn’t win, this thing will be dated by mid-November of 2016. I have also been reading the complete works of the cartoonist Tom Tomorrow, and when I was reading this, I was reading his primary sources on the Clinton years. Which seems to be the springboard for her national exposure –as odd as that is. Seriously, New York elected her Senator when she’s owned a house there for six months. That’s democracy in action. Glad this meritocracy works. But the Tom Tomorrow cartoons really reminded me of the deficiencies of the Clinton years from a liberal perspective. I was in high school. I kept up on the news, but it was local papers, Time, and Newsweek, so there wasn’t much lefter-than-thou criticism that I was able to see. That’s rural boyhood for you.

I think the book does make the case against her, but for me I wasn’t ever really for her to begin with, more indifferent. I guess if the state is close and she’s the nominee I’ll vote for her, but it doesn’t excite me. I just hope someone captures the enthusiasm that has been generated by the campaign of the other guy (and makes all sorts of electoral reforms so we’re not hoping the Democratic Party will be the authors of our salvation.