November 30, 2016

Picking through the Library at the end of November

Cosplayers: Dash Shaw

The best part of this for me was the small side story where a presenter at a conference can’t afford a hotel room and ends up sleeping in a dumpster. That part hit home.
Otherwise, it is the story of two women who make movies on their own, find a brush with fame, and (spoiler alert) find that they were better off doing the thing they wanted to do, not doing the thing they wanted to do.

I thought it was a bit weirdly episodic, until the end when I read that the stories were supposed to be looser and less connected and not 100% serve the larger arc. They were indie comics, as is the book.
Worth reading, but maybe the title is a bit of a misdirection (though there are cosplayers, so only just).

In the Sounds and the Sea: Galloway

The biggest recommendation here is the art. The black and white drawings are full of detail like that thing where you see a mass of maggots devouring some decaying flesh but you don’t want to look too deeply at the detail because you’ll see every single maggot so you just understand that there are maggots there in a lump. And you look away. If you smoke, you take a long hard pull off of your cigarette. And you exhale, smiling.

The big thing here is that there is no dialogue. The narrative is implied in language-les bubbles. It works, only just. I couldn’t tell you what happens. The ship burns, but it all goes back to the art. The art is good. Can it transcend the other structural, purposely chosen barriers? I’m not sure.

The Last Shift: Levine

We lost one of our greatest voices when Philip Levine sucked in his last air.

These are those poems right before that.

They’re worth reading, even if they don’t shake you to the core. At least they’ll shake you to the mantle.

I really liked “Louie Lies” (p. 61). I’m not sure if I wanted to be Louie or the one being lied to.

Pirate Utopia: Sterling

Oddly enough, this is the second book I’ve read about the revolutionary city of Fiume. There’s a deep mine to be exploited there, so it makes sense that our modern myth-makers look at it as a looking glass to reflect our world into it.

For those out of the loop, there was a conference after the first world war that divided the lands of the losers. Italy was on the border with the Austrian Hungarian Empire, which splintered into several states, these new borders inclined Italy but also a new polyglot state of Yugoslavia.

There were borderlands for all of this – places where it wasn’t one place at one step and another at the next, but gray areas and liminal spaces. Fiume was one of them. And the people there made it so. They created their own free state.

But it seems, in my limited reading, Fiume wasn’t about nationalities as much as it was about the borders between the past and the future. The rebels of Fiume weren’t necessarily fascist or communist (though it appears they were both, with a bit of anarchism aside) but they were between the past and the future. Sterling here captures that potential so much that this book isn’t self-contained. It feels like an opening slavo from our present against the unwritten future.