Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Dick In Squash: A Young Adult Novel

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Just in time to qualify for Book of the Decade (BOTD), TEETH – The Epic Novel With Bite has been released. Is it any good? I have no idea; I haven’t read it. I’m mainly sharing this because of the wonderful marketing campaign behind the book. Please check out the website and watch the video.

It’s weird, right? There’s a huge banner for a half a million dollar TV show even though the page is supposed to be advertising a novel. And then the video rambles on about dolphins and Christopher Reeve and a picture of a crocodile this guy found. Although I’d probably be name dropping Superman every day if I had met him.

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The story itself is so creative that it’s borderline yeasty. Johhny Willman, an American soldier who loves baseball and apple pie, is trapped in the jungles of New Guinea during World War II with a Japanese POW and an Australian guide named Footy. Together, this unlikely trio will learn the value of friendship as they murder a giant crocodile. It gets better: the Japanese guy is named Katsu — which is an expletive, FYI — and his only possession is a samurai sword. How could this book possibly be bad with a setup like that? Let’s examine an excerpt:

Five more Negroid warriors step from the jungle. These look so different than their victim, they might almost be a different species. Their facial features are broad, and their bodies shine coal-black. Patterns in red, white and yellow mark their faces, torsos and thighs. Through their noses are paired pig tusks, turned up towards the eyes, signifying war. Floating over them are headdresses of white egret feathers, incongruous in their delicate beauty. These men carry longbows, but with arrows of the kind for killing men. Some carry stone-headed axes and cudgels. They, too, are naked but for their penis gourds, but these are yellow and long, leave the testes exposed, and curl in outlandish shapes.

Pro Writer Tip:  unless you’re a forensic archeologist, Negroid is not a word you should throw around a lot.  Same goes for the phrase “penis gourds,” which seem to be central to the theme of the book.

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This dude has a bit of a hangup when it comes to cock melons. Seriously, they’re mentioned all over the place. I’m guessing that spending his youth in New Guinea and seeing all those huge native sholnsons on display, emphasized by oversized codpieces, left a slight impression on the author. I’m also curious about his liberal usage of the word “jap” in this Amazon video review (of his own book), and his description of New Guinea’s native Austronesians as “bloodthirsty savages.” Is “savage” still in use? Isn’t that a stereotype that Jack London used? Like, a hundred years ago?

I can’t wait for all of this teasing to come back around when I write my book on bad books.

 

Stories that hit the world like bombs

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Mike Carey’s The Unwritten is already up to issue five, which brings about some drastic tonal shifts. For starters, it’s presented as an autobiographical work by Rudyard Kipling that grafts fresh metaphors onto his various works, especially Just So Stories. Kipling recounts his motivations in moving from poetry and travel literature to children’s fables, as well as his run-ins with other authors such as Samuel Clemens and Oscar Wilde.

It’s sort of like fetish porn for lit geeks.

The first four issues of The Unwritten — and their focus on a Harry Potter type character — seem like more of an aside now. The tale Mike Carey is really telling is one of an invisible war fought using prose. Stories are weapons that shape the cultural landscape of the entire planet. Various shadowy figures engineer incidents in order to control what is (or is not) written.

I love this series because the concept seems perfectly tailored for a monthly series. There are so many literary works that can be re-examined as being purposeful agents of change. It makes me a bit giddy. I’m eagerly awaiting the Nabokov one-shot.

 

A paper architect for a paper world

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The first work of David Mazzucchelli I had experienced was 1987’s Batman: Year One, written by Frank Miller. It was beautifully illustrated, even if the story was typical Frank Miller crap. The interesting thing is… that was Mazzucchelli’s last superhero book, aside from guesting on a Fourth World section in 2000’s wonderful World’s Funnest (which deserves a post of it’s own). What kind of jerk starts with Batman and works his way up from there? It’s illogical. What could be better than Batman?!

Well, lot’s of things, but in particular: Asterios Polyp.

This book is so well considered that it’s hard to grasp. Every page is gorgeous to the point of contention. It took me a long time to finish, just because I was studying every panel. The visual language used backs up the narrative and the overall theme of duality and division so well. Man and woman, living and dead, cyan and magenta, backwards and forwards… this is a very complete work of art, and easily one of the best graphic novels I have experienced.

The story itself is… concerning. I’m not sure how else to label it. I relate too much to the main character to be able to discuss it properly. Basically: Asterios Polyp is a great artist (in the academic sense only) who has lost his true love due to his own pretentious ignorance. His view of the world has failed him and he seeks to rediscover himself. The story is narrated by his stillborn twin brother.

I can greatly expand on the beauty contained in this novel, but that would be at odds with the nature of this blog. I’m sure actual sequential art scholars already have that angle covered. Asterios Polyp is beautiful and heartbreaking, and easily worth the twenty bucks that you would normally spend on hoagies and Dogfishhead.

 

“A kitten is in the animal world what a rosebud is in the garden.”

Kittens Inspired By Kittens. This is probably the best YouTube video I have ever seen, and it has firmly convinced me that children are probably worth having in your life.

 
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