Saturday, June 15, 2013

Inter-connected tales in Lemire's Collected Essex County are worthy of Alice Munro

Recent reading includes several graphic novels and three works of non-fiction.

Book 63: Punk Rock Jesus by Sean Murphy

Religion and reality TV collide in this dark and provocative graphic novel written and illustrated by Sean Murphy.

DNA from the Shroud of Turin is used as a starter kit to clone a modern-day Jesus Christ.  Many doubt his divinity, others wants to use him for their own ends. Jesus -- who calls himself Chris -- has his own ideas about how he wants to live life, including a star turn as the lead singer for a punk rock band.

Punk Rock Jesus is a disturbing work with more questions than answers. It amply demonstrates the broad range of subject matter found among current graphic novels. It lends itself perfectly to Murphy's artistic vision.

Book 70: Collected Essex County by Jeff Lemire

Collected Essex County by Jeff Lemire features inter-connected stories worthy of fellow Canadian Alice Munro.

The stories of a lonely boy living on a remote farm with his uncle, two brothers whose dream of playing professional hockey are shattered when they fall in love with the same woman and a country nurses who tends to her patient's emotional needs each build on the other into a satisfying whole.

Lemire's seemingly rough-hewn art perfectly reflects the poignancy of these stark tales. This is a graphic collection that fits nicely on the shelf alongside the best literary fiction.

Book 79: The House of the Baskervilles adapted by Ian Edginton and I.N.J. Culbard

This adaptation of Conan Doyle's classic tale of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson lacks the spooky atmosphere of Culbard's take on Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness. Still it's loads of fun.

Other graphic novels worthy pursuing: The Killer (Vol. 1) by Jacamon and Matz, Cairo by Willow and Perker and Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan. (These were books 80, 82 and 83 for me this year.)

Book 72: Mint Condition by Dave Jamieson

A lively account of the rise and fall of the baseball card industry. Remember -- it's only cardboard.

Book 73: With or Without You by Domenica Ruta

There's a formula for memoirs of a certain type: 1) self-centered parents (or better yet one parent) given to drink or violence; 2) failure to learn the lessons imparted by the parent's mistakes; and 3) the author repeats those mistakes as an adult only to reform and write a hit memoir.

Memoirs they do get weary.

Book 74: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Tina Fey is a funny woman. A very funny woman.  Bossypants is funny book -- at times. At times, it's not. And sadly when a joke falls flat on the page, there's no where for it to go.

I'm told the audiobook of Bossypants is a hoot. I'll bet that's right.

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