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Everything posted by Venneh

  1. 53. No Logo, Naomi Klein: The anticorporate manifesto of the late 90s/early 00s, mainly viewed through the POV of branding, sweatshops, malls, and resistance. I’m reading the ten year anniversary edition another ten years on, and man, let me tell you that while some stuff has definitely changed (see: the Internet), a lot has stayed the same. Would be interested to see her do a 20th anniversary edition in 19.
  2. New MGMT 1 (aka final Mind MGMT issue): Still a fantastic wrap up to the series that leaves it open to continuation, if Kindt would want to come back to it. Dodge City 1-2: Boom appears to be getting into the sports anime genre. McGee's style is perfect for this, the story is great as snack food; not anything that's gonna win awards anytime soon, but I'll probably find a way to follow it cheap on the trade. Generation Gone 1-5: Hey guys, did you know that Ales Kot knows the words emotional labor? And that he named his black guy BALDWIN?? I've seen this summed up as Akira for our generation, and I would agree with that, but also with a fuckboy emotional abuser, a guy who thinks he's a Nice Guy but mostly ends up as a plot hook for a continuation and as a deux ex machina (literally), and the woman who I am genuinely surprised didn't throw most of the men in this comic into the sun sooner. (Spoilers. Whoops.) Carmen Maria Machado tweeted about how we accept women's pain as collateral damage in men's self-discovery, and man, this comic feels like a real strong example of that to me at this precise moment. I am also coming from a very specific place of grief in this reading right now, so that's probably influencing me real strongly, ngl. Andre Lima Arauljo does a fantastic job on the art, unsurprisingly. Prism Stalker 1: Reread the physical copy of this that we got at ECCC. Still goddamn amazing and combines the enculturation process and how immigration fits into all that along with some good old fashioned biological horror. Again: if you haven't read this yet, go do that. Twisted Romance 4: Again, reread this mainly for the comfort food aspect. The Sailor Moon inspired backup is a sentimental favorite, and I finally read the prose part, which is very up my alley. The main story still is one that continues to destroy me though, mainly for emotional abuse recovery reasons. Previews: 2 Single Issues: 81 (not counting rereads from this year) Trades/Tankobon/Graphic Novels/Anthologies: 44 Omnibuses: 1
  3. It’s a romance anthology and they’re all oneshots? *shrug* Ether: The Copper Golems 1: Interesting to see the world back home expand, and to see a fantasy jail bust. Rubín does gorgeous work as always. Will probably catch up on this on the trade. MW: I originally thought this was done by Tezuka in the early 00s, and had an elaborate thing about how this was a response to Aum and the crash in Japan. As it turns out, it was published in 78, so, whooops. It does predict a lot of the political issues of the 90s, and it does have a lot to say about religion, crime, and is a hell of a story besides. There is a bit of weirdness around the gay relationship that the story centers around, but for the time/culture, not that surprising. Definitely worth a read - I got through it in an afternoon in the bath. Goldie Vance v 1-2: I picked this up from Sava’s annual comics sale, and I’m interested in reading more of this. It’s a Nancy Drew esque story, but with a queer POC lead, the mysteries involve space and the Cold War, and it’s still a fun, light hearted read. Red Handed: Kindt does a GN about a series of seemingly unrelated crimes in a small city, but slowly unfold to be all connected. It’s a homage to classic detective novels, but actually turns the lens on the detective as much as the mastermind. Hell of a read. Previews: 2Single Issues: 73Trades/Tankobon/Graphic Novels/Anthologies: 44Omnibuses: 1
  4. 52. The Sound of Things Falling, Juan Gabriel Vasquez (translated by Anne McLean): Fuck. This came into my life right when I needed it. I picked this up remaindered a while ago, and finally got to it this week. To say that a man’s fascination with a friend he saw murdered, his daughter’s interest in the father she’d never really known, and a story that slowly comes to an end but isn’t really resolves hit a few buttons is to say the least here. It’s the same wistfulness as Borges, and the fascination with how the political plays out with the personal that I saw in Bolaño, with just wonderful writing in general. And an honest look at the consequences of typical Latin American machismo/sleeping around and a woman who is putting up with the protagonist and trying to be understanding of his PTSD, but also turns out to have a spine when he up and leaves her to suddenly meet the daughter of his friend. I’m probably going to have to see if there’s any more of his stuff remaindered.
  5. What do you have against Twisted Romance, @Dread?
  6. 51. Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, Mary Roach: A quick, light book about military science, which has a lot about shit and dicks, unsurprisingly. Roach writes engagingly but doesn’t hesitate to add humor in to keep some pretty morbid subjects on the lighter end of things. I got through this in most of a soak in a bath, I don’t expect I’m going to retain a lot of this, but it was a light engaging read.
  7. 50. Sisyphean, Dempow Torishima, translated by Daniel Huddleston: I’m not entirely sure what happened here, mainly because the four stories contained in this novel are related to each other only in a vague sort of way, and the writing in translation is dense as hell. But man, the stories are fast paced and look at some neat existential quandaries. The first story especially captures the hellscape of corporate Japan mixed with a good dose of sci-fi weirdness, and draws you in to the rest of the novel to see what the hell will happen. Torishima also does illustrations for each of the stories, so you get some damn amazing Junji Ito-esque illustrations to give further visual to the body and bio horror that’s described in the stories. Be ready for dense as hell prose and a lot of made up terms, but it’s worth the money and the time.
  8. 49. The Book of Joan, Lidia Yuknavitch: I read this at the recommendation of two writers that I trust, and because it came up remaindered at our bookstore. It’s a relatively quick read, and it’s a haunting, brutal one, basically telling the story of women and girls at the end of the world, and a rampaging misogynist who tries to create his own new society above the ruined earth. I’m writing this having literally just finished it, and I’m interested to see how it sticks with me. I don’t always agree with what Yuknavitch is using the characters to say, but the way she says it is undoubtedly amazing. One of the developments towards the back of the book feels a bit underdeveloped despite it becoming a major mover for a good third of the book. There’s also a throwaway moment at the end that feels like an attempt to be profound but comes off as deeply uncomfortable instead. Read through and see what you think. I’d be interested to hear other peoples’ opinions of it.
  9. 48. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, Michelle McNamara: So, with the Golden State Killer having been caught recently, and knowing about this book and the police crediting McNamara’s work, I decided to check this out. I was not expecting to find a book that I would tear through in the space of two nights. McNamara’s prose, where completed, is wonderful and draws you into her search and the crimes of the GSK, and how it unfolds. Where she wasn’t done, her colleagues finished it where possible, or attempt to piece things together from her notes or the things they worked on together and her transcripts. It’s a hell of a book, and I read it in the space of two nights in the bath. I’m honestly interested to see if Oswalt does get the chance to ask the GSK the questions in the epilogue, and how their finding him at last came into play. Definitely read this when you get a chance.
  10. Infinity Gauntlet 1: Never underestimate the motivational power of a dude's boner, y'all. It does feel pretty epic, though. Elric: The Dreaming City: Goddamn goddamn goddamn y'all. There's some places where it's clear they're doing the best they can with what they've got, but it's still pretty damn good. Harbingers War 2 Prelude: Raul Allen and Patricia Martin blow it out of the water. And this is their last issue with Valiant because they did not survive the DMG Entertainment takeover, sadly. Good luck, y'all. My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness: Decided to reread this, and it's still a gut punch. The sequel comes out this summer, I want to say? Isola 2: Don't give a shit about the plot, but goddamn Kreschl's art is gorgeous. Sleepless 6: Well shit, that's a good plot twist to leave it at. Let's see where this goes. Also, Del Duca's doing amazing stuff with the art here. Southern Bastards 20: Fuuuuuuuuck. Great art from Latour, and the plot from Aaron is taking a hell of a twist. Prism Stalker 3: Sloane Leong continues to knock it out of the park. The art is gorgeous, and the general biopunk applied to military school hell/being trained by their colonizers leaves you with a hell of an impression. Sleeper hit, this. Proxima Centauri: Farel Darymple does an abstract space story about a kid searching for his brother, and it feels super stream of consciousness. Interesting format, intrigued to see where it goes. Monstress 16: Still gorgeous and creepy as fuck, kind of have a good sense of what's going on. I'm sure I missed something in here somewhere, if I did Jim will give me a nudge. Previews: 2Single Issues: 72Trades/Tankobon/Graphic Novels/Anthologies: 40Omnibuses: 1
  11. 46. The Opposite House, Helen Oyeyemi: Oyeyemi’s second book, two narratives (one more rooted in the Orishas and the other rooted in immigrant traditions and pregnancy) that never quite come together, but on their own are great stories (maybe as two separate novellas?). Interesting formatting choices that I really like. Quick read (just over 200 pages, finished it in under a week). But by god whoever put that quote comparing her to Rimbaud, Dickinson, and Neruda at the top of the back cover is really doing her a disservice. It stands well enough on its own without the comparisons. 47. Palimpest, Cathrynne Valente: One of Valente’s first novels, nominated for a Hugo and won the Lambda in ‘10. It’s basically either super lyrical weird ass descriptions or lots of sexing, as the fantasy city is basically sexually transmitted. Don’t come to this looking for plot of any kind, or for any real answers to what the hell happens? I mean, there’s kind of a happy ending. The best way to describe this is “well that happened”. There’s bits and pieces of The Girl Who [Verbed] Fairyland, slightly before getting it crowdfunded/picked up by Macmillan. Like, it’s real pretty descriptions and shit, but with random ass pregnancy, some body horror it doesn’t seem willing to commit to, and just a general sense of meandering along before realizing “oh shit I need to end this”, and occasionally throwing in something resembling conflict kind of. It’s not bad, but it’s not memorable.
  12. 45. In Other Lands, Sarah Rees Brennan: This is a front runner for my favorite book of the year. On the surface, it’s a fantasy YA book about a boy who is chosen to go to another world and his friends that he finds there and coming of age and all that jazz. But god, it’s so much fucking more than that. It’s got the best portrayal of what a bisexual awakening is like as a teenager, and what fluid sexuality looks like, without shaming. It’s got these kids fumbling and trying to figure themselves out, and hurting each other in the process. It’s commentary on toxic masculinity by flipping the gender stereotypes. Its a kid who comes to term with a lot of shit with regards to what emotional abandonment does to him. It’s a kid working his way through the sexism and colonialism and racism of this society, and diplomacy, and just, fuck. If you grew up in fandom, there’ll be tropes you know and recognize, and you might be able to tell some of the twists before they happen. But god I wish this book had been around when I was a kid. I literally clutched this to my chest when I finished this. Get this now. You won’t regret it.
  13. 44. Servant of the Underworld, Aliette de Bodard: de Bodard’s first book, originally published by Angry Robot - this is a new edition published by JABberwocky Literary Agency. (This comes into play later.) It’s a procedural/murder mystery, but set in the Aztec empire, with two brothers at each other’s throats, politics, and the gods and supernatural fuckery. It’s a well written, fast paced read, especially for a first novel. But if/when I try to find the rest of this, I’m honestly going to be looking to see if I can find the Angry Robot editions. Because there is some genuinely sloppy formatting here on JABberwocky’s part. Mistaken paragraph breaks like the below picture happen every ten pages or so, and in a 300 page novel, that’s super noticeable. These kinds of errors happen when you’re changing from one size to another (Angry Robot does mass market size paperbacks for the most part, and this is noticeably larger), and any editor worth their salt should have caught this in the galleys.
  14. 43. The Possessions, Sara Flannery Murphy: Aggresively mediocre. This is this person’s first novel, and it kinda shows. (If I read one more green analogue like plant analogue I was gonna punch something.) It’s vaguely fantasy but not enough to actually commit to the concept, way too obsessed with babies in general, and there’s not really any particular standout among the plot or characters. It’s all pretty aggressively bland. There’s a reason I found this for free at the train stop. Quick read, at least.
  15. Season of the Snake: Insanely detailed art with good use of color, plot's pretty ehhh, standard "ooooh, sex and titties!" European comics stuff thrown in. I'll see where it goes. Descenders 29: More endgame stuff, Nguyen real fuckin' pretty. Rumble 5: I feel like there's flashback stuff here that might explain stuff I didn't know from the first time around? Rubin continues to be wonderful. Skybound 1: I know Garbett from Lucifer and Loki: Agent of Asgard, and he does real great art, especially gravity-less. Story's pretty standard. Previews: 2 Single Issues: 64 Trades/Tankobon/Graphic Novels/Anthologies: 38 Omnibuses: 1
  16. 42. Space Opera, Catherynne Valente: This is basically if Douglas Adams wrote a novel about Space Eurovision with a side of passion and hope and just some absolutely wonderful deep cuts. It’s funny, it’s well written, and you can tell it was written in response to the shitholiness of 2016-17. The fact that this is book 42 this year is a wonderful coincidence. Some of the run on sentences get a bit too run onny, but I laughed out loud while reading this so many times. And I kinda needed that.
  17. 41. Six Wakes, Mur Laffety: I hadn’t heard of this book until it picked up nominations for both the Nebula AND the Hugo, and I consider that a marketing failure on the part of the publisher. This is a fantastic locked room mystery, but also does fantastic world building/what ifs about what cloning being introduced would do to society. The plot itself is also incredibly well done, as are all the characters. Base plot is: clones wake up to themselves murdered on a ship. Their mapped memories are missing twenty years. And everyone staffing the ship is a criminal who took this mission to have their criminal records wiped. So, conceivably, it could have been any one of them. And the ship’s been sabotaged. And the wheels turn from there. I devoured this over roughly 48 hours. Get this from your bookstore, or, if your bookstore is sold out at the distributor level like mine was, check out Amazon, and enjoy.
  18. 40. The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, Olivia Laing: I don’t really viscerally hate books like this very often. This one earns my ire and then some. This book has “elements that appeared in... the Guardian and New Statesman”, which means she just barely edited some articles she submitted. What she SHOULD have done is just left it as a collection of those articles. Instead she decided to rework some very solid articles about artists such as Edward Hopper, Henry Danger, and David Wojnarowicz into a meandering ass book about how her pain as a white woman who decided to uproot her life and move from England to NYC on a whim for a lover who then broke up with her once she was in the States and left her alone is TOTALLY equivalent. But she got a residency during writing this shitpile and she could jump from sublet to sublet. The original articles, whose bones I can see in the individual chapters, are solid writing. The masturbation about the city and loneliness on her end that surrounds all of it are just godfuckingawful. The book also just abruptly ends out of nowhere. A respected author calls this a “beautiful meander” on the cover, and Christ, that is a hell of a stretch, and being incredibly kind, which I am not inclined to be. And that’s BEFORE she makes the decision to compare the internets to the FUCKING AIDS VIRUS in how it makes us alone. I genuinely wanted to throw the book at that point. I didn’t. Marvel at my fucking restraint. However, after I am done writing this up and posting it, I am going to do so. Fuck this book. I paid $3 for it remaindered, and it’s not even worth that. PS: I forgot how she romanticizes some figures and then drops shit like “oh btw he completely emotionally and physically abused his wife to destroy her drive to create art so she wouldn’t leave him/be better than him”, but he was just a tortured dude. NO. Christ, I need a drink. Time for a palate cleanser.
  19. Dept H vol 1-3: So, unsurprisingly, it turns out that this is meant to be read as close together as possible, because there are tiny details in each volume that it’s easy to forget in the half year between trade volumes. Have a feeling that this was more a graphic novel plan than a monthly series plan, but still incredibly well crafted. Previews: 2 Single Issues: 60 Trades/Tankobon/Graphic Novels/Anthologies: 38 Omnibuses: 1
  20. Prism Stalker 2: JESUS FUCK CHRIST THIS GOES IN HARD. Deadly Class 33: Oh look, the plot finally remembered Saya existed again! Just in time for more torture porn and female characters suffering because of dudes! Yaaaaaaaaaay. Sleepless 5: Oooooooh. Good turn here plot wise, and more explanation-exposition about the Sleepless guards. Del Duca is lovely as ever on the art. Interested for the next issue. A Bride’s Story v7: Aka the volume that should feel more sleazy than it does for half or more of it being set in a lady’s bathhouse and a dude getting a second wife. It’s actually pretty amazingly pure and sweet, and the female nudes are lovingly rendered but don’t feel samey, cheesecakey, or like Mori had a hand down her pants while she was drawing these. There’s so many different body types. (Also Mori has admitted to having A Thing for the female form. It shows here.) Delicious in Dungeon v4: Good weaving in of plot stuff to extend out the manga’s run, a real kick ass fight, and some potentially interesting consequences. Let’s see how this goes. Previews: 2 Single Issues: 60 Trades/Tankobon/Graphic Novels/Anthologies: 35 Omnibuses: 1
  21. 39. Wolf in White Van, John Darnelle: Reread this when Des bought up that he was reading it, because it’s been a hot minute since I read this last. Unsurprisingly, Darnelle’s gift with lyrics carries over to prose, and it’s a fast paced, beautifully flowing read, and I frequently found myself stopping and just rereading lines again for how good they were. Best way to describe the structure of it is that it ripples out from one point and then slowly collapses back into stillness. If you’ve not read this yet, read it.
  22. 38. Zombie Capitalism: Global Crisis and the Relevance of Marx, Chris Harman: I’ll admit to being real confused by the audience for this book. Half this book is taken up by a pretty basic explanation of Marxism/its criticisms and a Marxist economic history of most of the 20th century, in a seemingly pretty basic 101 explanation. On the other hand, some pretty important glossary terms are kept in the back, the last chapter being pretty rah rah Marxist victories, and the publisher being Haymarket Books seem to point to the book being aimed at an audience with a pretty decent understanding of Marxism. When it finally gets to the analysis of global crisis being built into capitalism and various examples of the kind of crises, and capitalism as a zombie/vampire system, it becomes an enthralling read, but again, you have to get through the 101 explanations to get to it. It exercised parts of my brain political/economic theory wise that I’ve not used since college, which was a good feeling, but the book felt unfocused and didn’t get enough time to tackle the part I was actually interested in. I got this for $5 from our favorite bookstore, which is always good; if I’d spent more, I might be more frustrated.
  23. This is Jim not noticing he was logged in on Venneh's account until he hit publish. Ugh. Shaft: Dynamite put out a great licensed comic, even if it leans into a particular detective story trope. However, it goes somewhere with that trope. Harrow County v6-7: The wheels continue to turn as the series nears the end. Tyler Crook remains fantastic and whenever they put out a trade is when I'll pick it up. There's one resurrection that felt like author fiat to cover up a plot bit, but given how often resurrection happen in this series, it's difficult to argue they're not allowed to do it. Dark Horse runs a lot of underrated horror comics, but this is one of their absolute best. Black History In Its Own Words: It's a Ronald Wimberly sketchbook. It's still good and I choose to believe someone will read this and have their mind blown. I'm bummed he didn't do Paul Robeson, though.
  24. 37. Moonshine, Jasmine Gower: Last of the Angry Robot books we got at ECCC. Fantasy world meets jazz age/prohibition aesthetics. Pretty solid, not anything particularly amazing, but not mediocre either. Just solid genre work.