Wednesday, 28 March 2012

#40 Marvels

I know.  I have like 8 or so graphic novels so far this year.  I can't seem to help myself.  And I am already starting the gargantuan task of reading all 300 issues of Cerebus, which is a very intelligent comic, or so I hear.

Written by Kurt Busiak and illustrated by Alex Ross, this graphic novel is beautiful to look at.  I mean absolutely beautiful.  For the art alone I would read this book.  But the concept is what intrigued me.   The story is centered not on super heroes, but the average person in the Marvel Universe and how they react to super heroes and villains destroying their fair city of New York.  They complain, they cheer, are jealous, petty, and are scared.  The citizens go through all stages of emotions as Galactus crashes into town, or when Spiderman fails to save Gwen Stacy.  This novel covers the major Marvel stories from the 70s from the ground level of an average person.  Beautiful art and great storytelling.

Slaughterhouse 5

This was a real quick read, and my first Vonnegut book.  I guess it was humorous, but I found it difficult to smile while reading the book.  I hate cover quips that say a book is funny when it is only slightly amusing.   Why not just say the book is amazingly written and intelligent?  Do buyers only respond to humor?  I want to become a famous critic that sucks and put quotes on famous books like:  Crime and Punishment will be the most exciting and hilarious book you read all year.  Or how about: Titus Andronicus is for Shakespeare what Transformers 3 is for Michael Bay.  So it goes.

Now that my rant of the day is over--I greatly enjoyed the book.  I finished en route to places.  I read on trains and buses and in a week of short travels I am finished.  I am not sure to call this memoir/war story/ or science fiction.  I won't classify it then, I'll just remember the Tramalfadorians as a possibility and leave it at that.  It is funny, at times I felt that if Vonnegut was more silly he could have been comparable to Douglas Adams. Or maybe if Adams was more serious he could have been Vonnegut.  I will have to read more Vonnegut to determine this.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

#38 Battle Pope

I read this one under the suggestion of Alex, which was suggested over a year ago.  My main interest for reading this was for theology...just kidding.  The writer is Robert Kirkman, who also writes The Walking Dead, which is currently my favorite ongoing comic saga.

This comic is humorous, and a lot of the humor fails to please.  I wasn't bothered by the blasphemy, it just wasn't very funny.  The art was good, and Kirkman can tell a story.  As for the characters, they are caricatures/parodies of their biblical counterparts.  And it revolves around the dysfunctional family of God, Mary, and Jesus.  As with comedies, it ends with happy marriage between God and Mary, no longer making Jesus illegitimate.  My only problem is that Joseph was nowhere mentioned in the entire comic.  Was his presence inconvenient to the story?  There were also several unresolved stories that I would like to have seen some resolution for.  Not bad, but not exactly great.  I will give it praise for its creativity.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Starship Troopers

I was a little hesitant when I picked this book up to read as I have already seen the movie probably a dozen times.  I just figured the book would be about a war with bugs and Mobile Infantry (MI) doing M.I. things.  Who wants to read a novelization of Starship Troopers anyways?  And while reading this book I became aware that this book was fundamentally different than the movie.  The themes of fascism were toned down in the movie.  Johnnie Rico was not a South American like in the movie, but a Filipino, which completely surprised me when he started talking Tagalog.

The main difference is that much of the book takes place in boot camp, Officer Training, and classrooms.  This is Heinlein using every opportunity to detail his military utopia and his ideas on society.  This arguments are well made, especially as Heinlein himself was destined to be a career Navy when illness discharged him from his chosen vocation.  This can all be gathered from Wikipedia's entry on Starship Troopers.

I must admit that I loved this book as SF.  It created a plausible future, albeit utopian, and the military seemed realistic enough.  Also, I really want a M.I. exoskeleton battle suit.

Friday, 16 March 2012

#36 Pygmy

Written in the first person of the broken English of "Operative me", this book was pretty funny.  Really funny--interspersed with horrific tragedy. My first Palahniuk novel, not my last.

Will give further details at the bookclub.

Every man in his humour

My first Ben Jonson play has been read.  I must admit that on my letter of intent to ISU I did say that I was studying Ben Jonson, and now I can truthfully say --yep.  Though I did spell his name "Johnson", hopefully no one notices.

So I have a book of five of his plays so I started with the first one, Every Man in His Humour and hopefully I can read them all before I am back in Yellowstone April 20.  It was a fairly good play, it would rank up there with Shakespeare, in that its jokes seemed conservative and not to bawdy.  I can say that its trickster character of Brainworm was fairly well-made and caused all sorts of trouble as he went further and further down a path of chaos.  I had no idea why he was doing all of these tricks until the end, when it seems that Jonson decided to give him a reason.  Until that point Brainworm seemed to be operating on his own volition for anarchy.  I guess not.  Otherwise another decent entry in Renaissance drama.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

#34 Elizabeth I

by Anne Somerset, 575 pages.

This massive history took over a month to finish at work, mainly because of the small print and many pages.  There is apparently a lot to say about this favorite queen on England.  She reigned for over 40 years, and the way Somerset portrayed her in this detailed history was as someone that responded well to flattery, and as sometimes fickle.  Even if I don't remember the details, the impression of this monarch will remain.  I'm starting to think the parody of her in Blackadder season II is more accurate than I would ever have imagined.  This history book was definitely what I was looking for when I purchased it.  It described the events leading up to the Spanish Armada sailing for England in 1588, and the Irish uprising.  Though I would have preferred more about Ireland, but will look for that in other books.  As for this book--loved it.

Uncertain Quality

I have been a fan of Alan Moore since I read Watchmen and my fandom was further increased after reading V for Vendetta, From Hell, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and The Killing Joke.  I love this guys style, so I picked up his latest (2006) and had a go at it.

Lost Girls is a story of Alice, Wendy, and Dorothy coming together at a Austrian hotel on the eve of WWI.  These three women from popular children's literature at the turn of the century, of which it shouldn't be hard to guess as they are famous literature that have at one time had cartoons made my Disney (Except maybe Dorothy).  So these three women, as they are grown up, find love and fulfillment in each other by telling their individual stories and through sex.  Moore turns each of their wonderful stories into sexual allusions.  For instance, Captain Hook is an arthritic pedophile that is afraid of aging and women.  Or the Tin Man is a farm smith, that is methodical/mechanic in his sexualism.  It is throughout that these Neverlands are the women's ways of coping with their sexuality and exploration of their Jungian interior.

Now having said that, this book sucked.  I read some reviews online that called this graphic novel art, and the art is very good and very colorful.  Their was nothing left unsaid in the art, and at times the art had more meaning than the words, if that makes sense.  The use of symbols, shadows, and the way each girl's story was presented was unique.  But, the constant portrayal of sex became tedious.  And the portrayal of sex was direct with nothing left unsaid.  Even much of the dialogue, which again was well written by Moore's smooth style, was frank sexual talk.  The entire third act was a tedious orgy interspersed with Edwardian smut stories.  And these stories I did find offensive.  One of the stories was about a father and mother having sex with their children, but it almost celebrated the fact these two children were daily getting raped by their parents.  Oh, yeah, the artist saw fit to illustrate this story.  What was Moore thinking?  Some sexual taboos do not need to be said, especially in a graphic novel.  Does this book count as child pornography because of the depiction of children?  But that isn't an isolated event.  Wendy had sex with her brothers.  Dorothy had sex with her father the great and wonderful Oz.  And all of this was depicted in the artwork.  So just to make myself clear, this book sucked.

What also bothers me is that Moore, one of the greatest comic book writers, chose to do this book and not something else that his multitude of fans would really want.  Why did he spend his talent on this?  And I am probably not the only Moore fan that read this book expecting Alan Moore to be amazing and then walk away offended.  This is how I end my winter in Yellowstone with a big letdown.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

#32 A Mad World: My Masters

This is the latest Middleton play I have read, mainly just to read something of his before I leave his massive collected works in storage at Yellowstone.  I thought what better than a comedy.

The first four acts are about a bunch of tricksters tricking each other, and mainly getting a lot of money from Sir Bounteous Progress.  It was all funny and good and then by the end of act four the stories of all of the tricksters were brought together for a dinner party where I was expecting greatness.  A masterstroke of denouement, but instead it ended with a play-in-play device and Sir Bounteous being forgiving to his grandson who has married Bounteous' mistress.  It was not the ending I wanted, I'm not sure what I wanted, I just wanted something where I could go -- Bravo!  This is the first Middleton play where I felt a little let down, maybe I am expecting too much from him.  I will resume my readings April 20, when I return for the summer.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Things I didn't need to know but wanted to know

At 493 pages on just describing physics, this book had a lot to say.  Knowing about theoretical physics is just fun.  It is also frustrating to get the beginning of the story and not have an ending, just a bunch of theories and ideas.  Is superstring theory really the way to go?  Will we ever be able to measure a Planck length?  So many questions without answers.  This book leaves more questions that a good literary book.

Though I enjoyed it, and was thrilled to find out Brian Greene has another book out, which I will be reading eventually.  This book sat on my shelf for over a year, I know this because it still has the Whatthebook sticker on the cover.