What I’m Reading – 9/18/08

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100 Bullets, by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso – A fantastic ongoing noir comic series.  The concept is this: a man comes up to you and gives you a suitcase with evidence of who is responsible for your fuckup of a life.  Also included in the suitcase is a gun and one hundred bullets.  The man tells you that his name is Agent Graves and that if you choose to use the gun to kill the responsible party, the government will not touch you.  The bullets are entirely untraceable.  Or, rather, when they are traced, the investigation will immediately cease.  So the question in the first few graphic novels is: what does the person do?  Do they kill the person responsible for ruining their life, and why?  The setup allows for a number of intriguing character stories, most of which (in true noir fashion) end unhappily.  The question in the next few graphic novels is: who is the man who gave you the suitcase?  How does he wield the power?  The answers are few and far between, but the world revealed is dirty, morally bankrupt, and, above all, epic in proportion.  A definite recommendation.

The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood – So far a mostly fantastic book, though as I’m approaching the ending I’m seeing signs it may fizzle.  Don’t you hate when you’re reading a book, and you’re saying to yourself, “Man, this book is so fantastic, I can’t wait to tell everyone how great it is.  This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time!”  And then you reach the end and it leaves you feeling like a bad sexual metaphor.  Anyway, I’m not at the end yet, so maybe it will pleasantly surprise me.  The book so far is kind of like, okay, I didn’t see it, but it matches my idea of The Hours.  Only good.  It’s a tale told by an old woman about her youth in the 1920s and ’30s, and a lot about her younger sister, who comitted suicide in the ’40s.  Further, there are long (and amazing) excerpts from her younger sister’s novel, The Blind Assassin, about an affair (which possibly and probably dovetails with the novelist’s affair).  Further further, within that novel is an enthralling story narrated by one of the main characters about the fantastical and brutal world of Sakiel Norn.  So stories within stories next to other stories, and all of them pretty amazing.  I especially like the old woman’s stories of her present time infirmity.  It takes a lot of skill to make old age captivating, but Atwood really makes you feel her (main) narrator’s mortality.  Like, REALLY feel it.

Sure, the main points of the story are Atwood’s usual fare: gender roles, feminism, trying to live for someone else, war, death.  So, you know, lighthearted stuff.  Not for the weak-hearted, for sure.  But, so far, I think it’s even better than the other two masterpieces of hers I’ve read, The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake.  I recommend it to any fan of serious literature.  And especially recommend it to fans of overserious literature.

John Dies At The End by David Wong – I’m only partway into this story (which you can find if you click here). Already, I’m overwhelmed by the writer’s brilliance.  It’s a horror story, and I mean really horrible at times.  But also somehow incredibly lighthearted, in a sort of noir yougottalaughoryou’llcry way.  Highly entertaining and highly recommended.  And you can’t beat that title.

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2 Responses to “What I’m Reading – 9/18/08”

  1. Sebatinsky Says:

    If you’re an Atwood fan, I recommend The Robber Bride:
    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Robber-Bride/Margaret-Atwood/e/9780385491037/?itm=1

  2. Ari Collins Says:

    Next Atwood on my list is Alias Grace, which The Girlfriend owns but hasn’t read. Have you read it? I started it but either didn’t like it or maybe just wasn’t in the mood for an historical character study (with bonus extra feminism).

    I make fun of her archfeminism, but I don’t necessarily disagree with it, and she gets it across so well.

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