Comics and More (was Re: Best of 2001)

Gross Family argross at bigpond.net.au
Tue Jan 15 02:32:52 EST 2002


Melissa wrote:

> So far I'm just writing in the date I record the title (the date I finish
> it).  Not really an accurate count of how long it took, but it's sort of
> like a journal, so it makes me feel all noble, especially if I add the
> comment thing.

Ah yes, I know that feeling of nobility well! :-)

Melissa, thanks so much for your comprehensive reply to my questions. I've
snipped them here, but have kept your references and suggestions. What you
say about comics being bound into books actually explains some of my
confusion. I'd been wondering how loose individual comics--which is the way
I remember them--would be sold in bookshops and amazon.com. Now that I know
what to look for, I can think of a few places that might have them. I never
even thought of looking up amazon, because, again, I didn't think they'd
sell loose comics.

As synchronicity would have it, I happened to get a copy of a fanzine today
that mentioned _The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay_ by Michael
Chabon, and the person who wrote about it is Australian Bruce Gillespie, so
I can ask him where he got his copy from. It sounds like something I would
definitely like. I haven't seen it in any bookshops, though, but we can
often be ages behind the US regarding books. (We tend to get the British
ones more quickly.) And I will look up my local library for them, especially
_The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen_. I never thought of the library
because again I was still thinking of comics in their individual loose
issues. I may have to depend on libraries because I imagine the bound comics
available online and in big bookstores are pretty expenisive, judging by the
prices of ordinary books in Australia nowadays (the average hardback can be
anything between $AUS30 and $60 or so. TBs aren't much cheaper. PBs start at
about $20. It's crazy.

> Thus ends the comic book rant.  Or graphic novel rant, if you want to
sound
> high-brow.  I'm old enough that I don't really care.

Same here. 'Comics' is fine by me.

> Greek environment with a three-way political conflict.  That's the brief
> version.  :)  The first novel, _The Thief_, is about a thief who's been
> thrown in prison for theft, but is offered his freedom if he helps a very
> important political figure find a very important religious artifact.
Things
> are never what they seem (and I still maintain the author had to cheat to
do
> it) and the ending is a surprise.  The second book, _The Queen of
Attolia_,
> has many of the same characters, but the perspective is different, and I
> can't explain any of it because I think it's just better you read it and
> enjoy.  They're both different from each other; the first one is an
> adventure novel cross-bred with an examination of storytelling and myth,
> while the second is, I guess, more of a character study and EXTREMELY
> disconcerting if you're expecting standard fantasy fare.  I love the
> characters; I love the treatment of religion; I adore the setting.

Also sounds like something very much up my alley. I actually saw _The Thief_
recently, before I read the list's recommendations, and didn't buy it. I'll
correct that ASAP.

[more snipped here]

> >_A Red Heart of Memories_ by Nina Kiriki Hoffman.
>
> Do you like these?  I do, and I have no idea why, because I can't tell
where
> she's going to end up half the time.  They seem like an extended rambling
> rather than a coherent narrative.  Apparently this isn't a problem, but I
> sort of assumed it would be.

It's interesting that you say this, because I've been thinking along similar
lines. I haven't yet read the sequel, _Past the Size of Dreaming_, but I
enjoyed _A Red Heart of Memories_, although I kept feeling that something
was missing. I agree with you--they feel like an extended rambling; but it
wasn't that in itself which worried me. I don't mind the lack of a
complicated plot. I think what's missing for me is that it remains rambling
and seems to eschew emotional depth. I kept waiting for an epiphany, an
emotional crisis, or something. But I quite like gentle books, so I'm still
not quite certain what was missing. I absolutely loved her previous books,
_The Thread that Binds the Bones_ and _The Silent Strength of Stones. It
seems to me that they had more emotional excitement or depth, so maybe
that's what it is; I'm not sure.

 > >Book I'm Sure I Will Love When I Read It This Year: _The Tower at Stony
> >Wood_ by Patricia McKillip--which didn't get read during 2001 by sheer
luck.
> >Next to be read, I think.
>
> I am so out of the loop with her stuff, I didn't even know that her new
book
> is out already.  The title is _Ombria in Shadow_.  But I re-read _Fool's
> Run_ this year on the airplane from Germany and remembered just how
> beautiful a book it is.

I continue to enjoy her stuff (I only just got hold of _The Tower at Stony
Wood_ because for some reason, the publishers of her books sell at
rediculous prices here--I saw it selling in PB here for $39. I got it from
elsewhere in HB for a fraction of that price. So I imagine it will be a
while before I get hold of _Ombria in Shadow_.) . But you can't gulp down
McKillip; she requires serious and slow reading--so even though I love her
work, it doesn't always have that purely pleasurable rush that some books
do.

 > I'm getting giddy with all this book discussion.  I have a reading group
> meeting tomorrow, too.  We read _Transformation_ by Carol Berg.  I spent
the
> first half wishing it would start already, wishing the author had cut out
> about a third of the lard, then I enjoyed the second half, more or less.
> Not too bad, but not fantastic.  I've read a lot of books with this group
> that I wouldn't have otherwise, I think.

I can't remember if I mentioned this book in my list; I've just finished
reading it. I actually enjoyed the first half more than the second. I've
just started the sequel, _Revelation_ and I'm not sure about it. You know
when you find yourself not picking up the book and wishing you'd finished
it? I tend to wonder then if it's worth the time or not.

I would *love* to belong to a reading group that reads the kind of book I
read, but most of them seem to read stuff I'm just not interested in.

Thanks again for your suggestions and explanations!
Ros

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