Wednesday, September 26, 2007

graphic tips

Adrian Tomine's full-length graphic novel Shortcomings releases on October 2nd. That means over a hundred pages of the Berkeley native's irresistible clean-lined drawings & his incisive, witty portrayals of often self-absorbed & frustrated characters. A few people have criticized Tomine's emo sensibility in the remarkable Optic Nerve (of which issues 11-13 make up Shortcomings), but they'd probably prefer not to acknowledge their own similar experiences in the realm of relationships. Or they should just stick to "Stuff" magazine & let the rest of us ponder the ever-mysterious workings of the heart. October 16th brings Acme Novelty Library #18, in which Chris Ware continues his profoundly affecting "Building Stories." It's going to be a good month.

And if you haven't experienced Jason Lutes' Berlin, a supreme combination of story & illustration set in the Weimar Republic, then you need to rethink your priorities. The series is ongoing, with issue #13 in comic-book format available now, but Drawn & Quarterly has also collected the first eight in book form.

Just so you know.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

handy dandy laffy taffy

KOOKABURRA tells us about meeting Rudolf Delson's novel, Maynard & Jennica (September 8, 2007):

Noticed it the other evening in the window of Three Lives bookstore, placed backwards on the display shelf because the red script of the title, like, runs in reverse on the back of the dustjacket--admittedly a good gimmick. Next day Amanda, behind the counter, beams & says M & J is really good, but that some other customers (read: staid traditionalists) would definitely hate the narrative style. Naturally, I hand over twenty-four bucks.

My mother often says it's really hard to write a comic novel. She also tends to read such works with initial enthusiasm, then without warning one hears, "I HATED that book! Yes, I liked it at first, & then it became ENTIRELY predictable." Will have to see if this book escapes that pattern for her--it did for me.

Told through various people's recollections, the novel features Jennica Green, a New Yorker via San Jose who was definitively out of a relationship in the 1990s 68.53 percent of the time, & Maynard Gogarty, who wears snappy vintage clothing, makes art films, & is still married (for visa purposes) to a woman who fakes her death to cash in on World Trade Center victims' funds.

And speaking of September 11, the author gets extra credit for a difficult trick: making "some totally unacceptable" statements about that time six years ago via Gogarty. Kind of like a young angry hipster cousin to Susan Sontag in her essay "9.11.01," the film maker scoffs at the American flag decals on the subway, the new definition of patriotism, & even the choice of words used to title "A Nation Challenged," a special section that ran in the New York Times for a while after the attacks. And Delson pulls this off in the middle of entertaining fiction.

It's a modern love story with Manhattan a lively, lovable main character & plenty of other folks (parents, college friends, & even the emergency brake on the 6 train) lending support. Aside from being a little worried that Delson ripped off Harryette Mullen in order to create Puppy Jones' chart-topping rap of words that rhyme with themselves, kookaburra swears you'll have a fine time reading this book.

Maynard & Jennica is 304 pages long & is published by Houghton Mifflin.