Comics and More (was Re: Best of 2001)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Wed Jan 16 00:52:23 EST 2002


On Tue, 15 Jan 2002 18:32:52 +1100, Gross Family wrote:

>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've been raving about it to everyone I meet, but most of my friends
probably wouldn't like it.  I think a few of them might be turned off by the
homosexual theme, which I think is very tastefully done and makes certain
subplots more poignant.

>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.

And I thought we had it bad paying $7 for a cheaply printed paperback.  Ugh.
_League_ is a favorite of mine because (as you might recall from my ranting)
I am passionate about superhero-team stories.  I love the idea of people
with disparate abilities working together, complementing each others'
strengths.  I know it can be cliched (a la Voltron or Power Rangers) but
it's dear to my heart.  _League_ is also packed full of literary references
and subplots, and tackles a number of Victorian era literary
types--including, I should warn you, Victorian pornography.  The members of
the League are all heroes from various novels of that era, though having
never read _Dracula_ there was one character I didn't recognize until about
halfway through.  Much as I admire Alan Moore's other, more regular titles,
I really really wish this was a monthly series, because so much was hinted
at in the first six issues (that's what the bound volume contains) that
isn't resolved.

>> >_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.

I can't figure it out myself.  I've read both _Red Heart_ and _Dreaming_,
and in both cases was left feeling as though I hadn't understood what the
real story was.  I enjoy the prose, but I can't seem to identify the central
point of the narrative.  Like, in _Red Heart_, I thought the story was going
to be about the search, and it turned out to be about the gold dust magic
stuff (that's incoherent, but I haven't read it for a while), and I felt as
though I'd missed something that would have indicated that plot twist.  I
don't know.

>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.

As we were waiting for everyone to show up, two of the ladies told me about
how the book group got started.  It turned out that all of them had been in
another, much larger, discussion group many years ago.  Theoretically each
member was supposed to have a chance to choose a book and lead the
discussion, but in practice it was always the same people and they always
chose whatever was popular and depressing.  One woman was a real
intellectual, and chose classics, and my friends liked those but the rest of
that group thought they were too hard.  So these women all got to talking
and concluded that they would much rather read science fiction and fantasy.
And, as I said in the other post, it's been going for about 16 years now.  I
feel very fortunate to have been invited to join.  It is hard to find good
reading groups, but so worth it if you can.

I sure hope you find some of these comics, Ros.  I was surprised to discover
not only how many of us read comics, but how much agreement there was on
what we like!

Melissa Proffitt
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