August 8, 2016

Recent Reads

111. Everything Is Teeth
This graphic memoir is so simple and yet incredibly effective. It tells the story of the author's obsession and fear of sharks as a young girl. The art is not complex, but sets the right mood for capturing the terrors of childhood. If like me you had a problem swimming after watching Jaws, then this is one for you. Beautifully and tenderly told. Rating: 4 stars.

112. Salem's Lot
I listened to the audiobook, which is superbly narrated by Ron McLarty.

If you know my reading habits, then you might know that I bookend sailing season with a King novel. He sure knows how to spin a yarn, and can evoke the claustrophobia of creepy small towns really well. I'd read this book decades ago but remembered so little of the actual plot, that I thought I'd do a re-read, something I very rarely do.

I love a good vampire story. The vampires of old, ala the Anne Rice and Bram Stoker kind. None of these "skin sparkles in sunlight" crap for moi. King does a decent job of paying homage to the genre, and it is clear, as he states in the introduction, that he was heavily influenced by Shirley Jackson and some of the "trash" he read as a kid.

While I liked this story, I did not love it as much as his other works. The build up is oh so slow, and the sheer number of characters mentioned, who add almost nothing to the story other than having their name dropped got a little tiresome after a while. It's the place and setting that pulled me along, and I enjoyed the ride well enough. Rating: 3 stars.

113. Y: The Last Man - The Deluxe Edition Book Two
This deluxe edition book two collects issues #11-23, and I liked this installment even less than the first one. Let me try to articulate why.

As I've said in my review of the first volume, just because all but one man dies, it's not as if the world stops turning. In this volume, we meet more groups of women, some of whom add absolutely nothing to the plot, other than as a means to show some barely clothed voluptuous bodies. If such a apocalypse were to occur, I'd agree that not all women would respond in the same way, so some of what the author does here could be seen as quite feminist. However, when the only "good girls" around are the ones trying to save the sole man, or are all about the man, it's hard not to see that as very anti-feminist in reality. There is almost no character development or depth, so it feels like watching two dimensional cutouts move across a stage. The Israeli angle is ludicrous, and I continue to be annoyed at all the stuff that no longer works - because you know what would be solved if all the men disappeared? Unemployment.

On the plus side, I liked the art much better in this volume, and there were scenes with more realistic women bodies, but at this point I'm wondering if I'm even interested enough to see where this story is headed to continue reading on. If you've read the series, and think I should, please chime in. Rating: 2 stars.

114. Becoming Unbecoming
I'd never heard of this author or graphic memoir, and am so grateful to my Goodreads friends whose reviews of it put in on my radar. This might well be the most thought provoking and important graphic memoir I've ever read. The author uses words and art to tell the heartbreaking account of the violence she experienced growing up, and then juxtaposes her personal story against a national serial killer story playing out in the media at that time. She explores how societal and cultural attitudes towards girls and women play a huge role in the gendered violence experienced.

We continue to live in a world that values girls and women less than boys and men. Girls and boys continue to grow up in a culture where male violence mostly goes unpunished and unquestioned. Victims of violence continue to live in a culture of silence and shame, and are further victimized by being held responsible for being the cause of the violence because of how they were dressed, or lived, etc.

The personal is political, and the political is personal. We are either part of the solution, or we are part of the problem. I cannot put into words how important a book this one is, and I'd recommend it to everyone. Rating: 5 stars.

115. The Collage Workbook: How to Get Started and Stay Inspired
I'm in the midst of the 100-day project, and creating a collage a day, so thought this book would give me some ideas. It's a basic introduction to collage, and there are some exercises to try, but it felt more like a showcase of the author's work, than something I found useful. If, however, you are completely new to collage, this might be just the right book for you. Rating: 2 stars.

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