Monday, August 14, 2017

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Breakfast at Tiffany's Audiobook

Breakfast at Tiffany's is the latest in my novella/short novel kick.  At 192 pages, it runs for under three hours on Audible, and it's read by Michael C. Hall from Dexter and Six Feet Under.  It had been in my wish list for some time when it became the Daily Deal yesterday; I bought it for $1.95.  Narrated by Fred, an unpublished writer living in the same poor tenement as the main character, Holly Golightly, it tells the story of the two of them, their friendship, and most importantly, Golightly's story.

When you're reading a bunch of good literature, it's hard to say how one stands out sometimes.  In the case of Breakfast at Tiffany's, it's many things.  It's the characters.  It's 1943 New York.  It's the prose.  It's Holly, it's Holly, it's Holly.  I haven't been this entranced by a female character in literature since I first saw Bizet's Carmen by the San Diego Opera, after which I immediately went home and wrote a one-act play.  Holly made me want to become a writer again.

All These Worlds

All These Worlds Audiobook

All These Worlds is the third "Bobiverse" novel, a science-fiction story about a self-replicating spacecraft with an "artificial" intelligence created by scanning the brain of an early 21st-century entrepreneur and engineer who dies in an accident outside a sci-fi convention in Las Vegas.  In the third and seemingly final book (billed as the "conclusion" to the series), the Bobs must deal with a genocidal race called the Others along with a host of other problems.  In the first novel, the Bobs simply fly into space, bent on exploring it.  As the series progresses, they gain more and more responsibilities, ending up saving not only the human race but two other sentient species.

I was decidedly nonplussed at seeing the series end.  With so many series going strong at five or even ten books, the almost abrupt ending of the Bobiverse series disappointed me, not just that it ended but the way it ended (spoilers follow).  The Others are destroyed when two of the Bobs accelerate a planet the size of Mars into the star around which the Others are building their Dyson sphere, and the explanation of this is completely left out.  Where do they get the power to move a planet at all, let alone at relativistic speeds?  I get the feeling that author Dennis E. Taylor didn't know himself, so he only spends a single page on this plot device.  I'll still buy every book Dennis E. Taylor writes, but make no mistake.  All These Worlds is a flawed novel.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Secret Scripture

The Secret Scripture.jpg

The Secret Scripture is another fantastic book by the Irish writer, Sebastian Barry.  It's the story of Roseanne McNulty, a 100-year-old Protestant woman who has lived in the Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital for half her life, perhaps more.  She decides to write an autobiography, which is discovered at the turn of the 21st century by her psychiatrist, Dr. Grene.  The narrative voice shifts between the autobiography and Grene's account; Grene must decide if she is to be transfered to another hospital or let free.

A little math shows that the heart of the story is in the 1920s, when the Troubles took place, being of course the Irish Civil War and its aftermath.  Roseanne's family, being Protestant in the mostly Catholic borough of Sligo, face hardships and loss, as you might well expect, but what I can't get over is how author Sebastian Barry manages to write an epic story in just 300 pages, as he does in the other novel of his I've read, Days Without End.  The Secret Scripture was made into a movie in 2016.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Great Jones Street

Great Jones Street Audiobook

Great Jones Street is the 1973 novel by Don Delillo about the reclusive rock star, Bucky Wunderlick.  Wunderlick lives in an unfurnished apartment on Great Jones Street, Manhattan, where he is hassled by his agent, a drug dealer, neighbors, and other strange people.  The two main plot elements are a new drug that inhibits the speech center of the brain and the so-called "Mountain Tapes," a series of 20 songs recorded by Bucky in the mountains.  This all must sound very Pink Floyd to most readers, but we have to remember that The Wall was realized later in the 1970s.  A more likely basis for the Wunderlick character is Bob Dylan, who recorded the Basement Tapes, which were mired in rumor and legend until their release in 1975.

I listened to a new recording of the Great Jones Street audiobook, released on Audible earlier this month.  The recording gives the novel an otherworldly feel, as if the events take place in the future or on another planet.  The book itself, we have to remember, is pure 1970s and touches upon themes delved into more deeply in later works by Delillo such as political violence as art (Mao II) and pop-culture journalism becoming mainstream (Running Dog).  It mixes the surreal and the mundane like White Noise, and damnit, read Don Delillo.  He's fucking good.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

July's People


July's People was written in South Africa in 1981 by Nadine Gordimer  It takes place in the near future, when after a civil war in South Africa, apartheid is ended.  With all the major cities engulfed in war, the liberal Smales family escapes Johannesburg to the village of their servant, July.  What follows is a series of events that sees the Smales family decidedly out of their comfort zone.  While before the riots, they traveled the world in luxury accommodations, they now must bathe in the river, sleep in huts and forage for food.

Nadine Gordimer herself came from a wealthy, liberal family from South Africa, and you can tell that she puts a lot of herself in the novel.  While there isn't one great story, the book is more made up of scenes, much like the "Slice of Life" manga popular in Japan, but taking place in a fictional, war-torn South Africa.  It's a short book, and I'm sure I missed a lot.  Instead of re-reading it, I picked up The Conservationist, the 1974 novel that won Gordimer the Booker Prize.  She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


Eileen Audiobook

Eileen is the stunning debut novel by Ottessa Moshfegh, an American writer who was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for her efforts.  The novel is the story of Eileen, the boorish daughter of a police officer who lives in a small town outside of Boston in the 1960s and who works as a receptionist at a juvenile prison, where she gets caught up in a bizarre crime.  That crime takes up only the last fourth or fifth of the short novel.  The rest is us just getting to know Eileen, her habits, and her house life.

A new take on the anti-heroine, Eileen depicts the titular character as plain, slovenly, alcoholic, naive, and slightly stupid, but we cannot help but root for her.  The narration is from the present day (the book was written in 2015), so we know she survives, and clues are given about her life after leaving "X-ville," where she commits her unusual crime.  I can't wait to read more from this author.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Butterfly Effect With Jon Ronson

The Butterfly Effect with Jon Ronson Radio/TV Program

The Butterfly Effect With Jon Ronson is a seven-episode podcast given away for free on Audible.  It's about the effects of massive amounts of free pornography around 2008 on PornHub, although there have been other outlets like peer-to-peer files haring programs and downloading options like Megaupload and Rapidshare.  To make a story out of it, the author, Jon Ronson puts the blame on free pornography squarely on the shoulders of PornHub and its "creator," a Belgian man who simply invested in the company, tracing the effects of free porn on the pornography industry, Ashley-Madison, and on the viewers.

I never went on Ashley-Madison, but it did tickle me to find out that only a tiny percentage of its members were women, and only a tiny percentage of that tiny percentage of those women were real women, the rest being bots.  Of course, we all know that Ashley-Madison was hacked, leading to the publication of millions of members in a database searchable by zip code and name, but to add further to the humiliation - in most cases undeserved - of these men in saying that they were paying $25 a month to talk to bots, is just hilarious to me.

There is a lot of darkness to this series, of course.  It follows the stories of a couple of people who attempted or committed suicide.  Among pro athletes, there's always the thought, "if only I'd come along 10 years later and made as much as the athletes are making today."  In the porn industry, all that money was made 15 or 20 years ago, in many instances before the producers, directors, and stars were born.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Days Without End


Days Without End is a fantastic book.  I read it on Audible, which I'd highly recommend.  It's an Irish novel, and very few of us are able to subvocalize an Irish accent with the genuineness of Aiden Kelly, who gives a wonderfully authentic reading.  His accent is fully Irish but not too modern, as the book takes place in the 1850s through 1870s.  The main character is Thomas McNulty, an Irish boy who escapes the famine in Ireland in a boat to Canada.  He then becomes an Indian fighter, a crossdresser, a prisoner in Andersonville, and so much more.

It is a unique achievement to make such an epic novel fit into 70,000 words or under eight hours unabridged on Audible.  I'm reminded of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Voltaire, and Cormac McCarthy.  Days Without End is not a comedy, though; it's a very serious book.  The best praise I can give author Sebastian Barry is that I will read every book he's written, as soon as I can.  I've already purchased two more of his novels.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Hospital: A "Mountain Man" Story

The Hospital: The FREE Short Story: The First Mountain Man Story Audiobook

The Hospital: A Mountain Man Story is free on Audible, so I thought I'd give it a listen.  There are four "Mountain Man" books, all of which take place during a zombie apocalypse.  I know, I know, but I read on.  I'm not a huge fan of zombie stories; I only got through the first episode of The Walking Dead before giving up, and I've never read the comics, but somehow I liked this one, and I'd like to explain why.

The first of two big reasons to read "Mountain Man" beyond the free short story is R.C. Bray.  With credits including The Martian and Craig Alanson's "Expeditionary Forces" novels, Bray is quickly becoming a sci-fi audiobook powerhouse, and this is an excellent performance by him.  He's funny, dramatic, and terrifying.  The second reason is that the first three "Mountain Man" books (each barely 300 pages long) are being sold for one credit on Audible, so you get three books for the price of one.  I'm definitely down with that, and while the series isn't the first thing I'll read next - I might not get to it until September - I'll probably spend a credit on it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.jpg

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a short novel for adults and young adults by Sherman Alexie.  Albert Spirit, Jr. is the narrator, a 14-year-old boy starting high school on the Spokane Reservation.  After a tumultuous first week that sees him suspended from school for attacking a teacher, that teacher encourages him to leave the "Res."  Instead of getting good grades and going to college, Albert registers for a school outside the reservation the next day.

Albert describes the abject poverty and insipid alcoholism of the Indians on the Res (many prefer the term "Indian" over "Native American" because the latter implies colonization and Americanization).  This contrasts with the spirit, warmth, and intelligence of the main character and his friends and family both on and off the Res.  The book is depressing and funny.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The X-Files: Cold Cases

The X-Files: Cold Cases Performance

The X-Files: Cold Cases is a full-cast, six-episode mini series on Audible.  Each episode is 45 minutes long, and they star David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, and all the stars of the TV series, The X-Files.  The series starts off with former Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully living as Mr. and Mrs. Blake in Virginia, under the auspices of the FBI Witness Protection Program, but don't worry.  It isn't long before they're back in the FBI, working on the X-Files.

Throughout the TV series, The X-Files, or at least the first nine seasons (I haven't seen the most recent outing, but I will), there has been a mix of "Monster of the Week" and "Mythology" episodes, with most people preferring the latter.  I've always maintained that it's the mix of the two that makes the series great, and I enjoyed the one "Monster of the Week" episode in this Audible series.  I won't spoil this series by giving out any further details, but I have to say that it exceeded my expectations by a great deal.  Five stars, and all that.

The Oedipus Plays: An Audible Original

The Oedipus Plays: An Audible Original was in my wish list for a few months, but I couldn't bring myself to pay $7 for a bunch of plays I've already read a couple of times.  When it was the Audible Daily Deal a week or two ago, I bought it, and I'm really glad I did.  The three Theban plays, Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone, were written by Sophocles some two and a half miliennia ago, and they remain one of the earliest examples of high drama in the world.  The "Oedipus" story has been around for even longer than that; Oedipus is the baby who is prophesized to one day kill his father, the king, and marry his mother, the queen, so he is abandoned in a forest, where he is raised by a woodsman and his wife.  He grows up, of course, to kill his birth father and marry his birth mother.

Sophocles makes the story so much more than that, of course.  The story was so well known at the time that he begins the Oedipus story with Oedipus as the king of Thebes, only referring to his origin story.  Oedipus at Colonus describes Oedipus' late life and how he dies a blind beggar.  It was written much after Oedipus the King and even after Antigone, which is the story of Oedipus' daughter, who breaks a royal decree not to bury her brother by giving him full funeral rites.

The acting in this Audible Originals production is simply superb, far above R.C. Bray's "Skippy the Magnificent," and Frank Muller's "Eddie Dean," two of my favorite audiobook performances.  This is high art and high drama, produced and acted by real professionals.  I cannot recommend it too highly.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Green Lanterns #26

Green Lanterns, Issue #26 begins 10 billion years ago, when Volthoom and Rami forge the First Ring.  Rami, of course, is a Guardian of the Universe, and Volthoom is the First Lantern, from Earth-15, which was destroyed by unknown forces.  The interplay between them is excellent, an extremely emotional Volthoom and Rami, who is supposed to have forsworn emotions, yet he is the most emotional of the Guardians.  You see Volthoom losing control and eventually...

There's a Snickers ad that I thought was part of the story; it was very annoying.  Also, the usually excellent lettering is a little too small, in particular, Rami's narration, which takes the form of script on lined paper.  I could still read it, but I had to struggle to do so.  At 44, I don't have the eyes I did at 14.  The story of Rami and Volthoom is nice, and I'm excited to see what happens between them and Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz in the following issues.  Issue #27 came out a few days ago, and I already have it.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Clue #2

Clue, Issue #2 begins with a focus on Professor Orchid.  He is a gay Pakistani man who the deceased A. Body apparently had information about.  Detectives Amarillo and Ochre then find out that Mr. Body had information - perhaps intended for blackmail - about all the guests, but why did Mrs. Peacock die?  Things really heat up when two suspects escape the mansion, and Detective Ochre is attacked.

If you're a fan of the movie Clue with Tim Curry, you might want to check this one out.  It's actually better in a number of ways, as there are multiple attacks, and it's a sincere mystery, as opposed to a formulaic comedy.  I particularly like the use of color by Nelson Daniel, the artist.  Paul Allor remains my favorite IDW writer, and the letters by Neil Uyetake are consistent and legible, with emphasized words both italicized and bolded.

Fear the Sky


Fear the Sky is the story of an alien invasion, taking the form of four satellites and seven androids.  The satellites are stealth-enhanced and difficult to find, and the seven androids are controlled by the digitized minds of seven aliens, one for each of the seven nuclear powers on Earth: America, Britain, Russia, France, Israel, India, and Pakistan.  The seven androids all have the mission to infiltrate the armies of those countries, attend officer training, and get as close as they can to the nuclear arsenals of those countries to prevent them from attacking the forthcoming space armada.

The cabal of scientists and military personnel begins with two scientists who have to keep the secret of alien incursion because if they don't, the aliens will deploy a biological agent that will kill all humans.  One of many plot holes is that the two scientists don't know this.  While I can see how them keeping the secret from the American government makes for good sci-fi, I still don't "get" why the two characters would keep the invasion secret in the first place.

To make matters worse, Fear the Sky is some 700 pages long or over 20 hours on Audible.  Like many self-published novels, there are too many errors in the original text, and while the audiobook version is slightly better - no less a luminary than R.C. Bray does the reading - there are still problems with the sentence structure at times.  It's a good book for fans of military and technical sci-fi, but while I finished it, I won't be reading the two sequels.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Green Lanterns #25

Green Lanterns, Issue #25 is a 30+page anniversary issue.  The title debuted one year earlier, and has been published twice a month since then.  Like the last few issues, there's a flashback to 10 billion years ago, when the first seven Green Lanterns got their rings, the story of Tyran'r of Tamaran.  Somehow, he's still alive and guarding the Vault of Shadows, where Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz have traveled with Volthoom, who inhabits the body of Rami, the Rogue Guardian.  Finally, Volthoom reveals himself.

And there's more.  This is a particularly convoluted issue, one that even an ardent follower of Green Lantern and Green Lanterns would have trouble making heads or tails of.  There are actually two tales of the first seven Green Lanterns.  I mean, these are okay enough stories, but the two of them kind of break the flow of the issue, especially an issue with such an important reveal as this one (Volthoom escaping in body with his Power Ring from the Vault of Shadows).

I'm getting closer to getting caught up with this series, as Issue #27 came out yesterday.  I'm all caught up with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Clue, and I don't have that much left with Copperhead and Old Man Logan.

Rogue One #4

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Issue #4 promises Darth Vader, and it delivers.  It continues the arc from Issue #3 which involves the meeting between Jyn Erso and Galen Erso, which the latter doesn't survive.  Then we get the Darth Vader goodness.  Seriously, the Star Wars producers need to get James Earl Jones to make every sound the way that woman who did Siri did, so we can have him say anything.  Over 20 years ago, when I lived in Japan, I loved the BBC Star Wars dramatizations for radio, but they weren't the same without Jones.

Despite this issue's unfortunate beginnings - I hated the "Erso reunion" scenes in the movie - this is a pretty good issue.  We get to see Darth Vader, Mon Mothma, Yavin 4, and all the other fun stuff.  This issue also captures the unique humor of Star Wars, which is the difference between good Star Wars and great Star Wars.  While I didn't like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the movie, very much (I liked Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace better, much to the chagrin of my nephew), it has elements of greatness.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Green Lanterns #24

Green Lanterns, Issue #24 concludes the training arc with Simon Baz/Kyle Rayner and Jessica Cruz/Guy Gardner.  All Baz has to do to pass is punch Rayner in the face.  Jessica Cruz has put her training in jeopardy by punching Gardner in the face, beginning a fight.  Then it goes to the Volthoom arc from 10 billion years ago, on Mars, where Z'Kran Z'Rann, the White Martian, overcomes great fear to become one of the first seven Green Lanterns.  Z'Rann's old ring, one of the original seven, is now on Jessica Cruz's finger, leading Volthoom to request Cruz and Baz to help him go to the edge of the universe in the following arc.

Cruz's character has been progressing nicely.  Just six months ago, she still couldn't make constructs with her ring, merely shooting out beams with it and stuff.  Now she's able to handle her own in a fight with Guy Gardner.  Gardner isn't a very likeable person, so it's no surprise that he ends up on the losing end of their fight.  Baz, when the current run began, was getting some unique powers from the ring, like Emerald Sight and being able to pull his brother out of a coma.  It looked like he was going to become one of the most powerful Green Lanterns, yet his character has evolved as well.  He no longer carries a pistol, but under Rayner, he's become aware of his own limitations.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Rogue One #3


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Issue #3 begins on the Death Star, where Imperial operatives are watching the destruction of the holy city.  Jyn Erso is in Saw Gerrera's camp, along with the other anti-heroes, and they barely make it out alive.  Back on the Death Star, soon-to-be Grand Moff Tarkin and Director Krennic are having their pissing match which we know ends with Tarkin being in control over the Death Star.  Then the remaining rebels go to talk with Jyn Erso's father for some reason, and somehow they all don't get killed.

The "find Galen Erso" arc is a lot of what soured me on the movie.  It's well done, the whole, "he has the face of a friend," and, "his weapon was in the sniper configuration," but the scene seemed like a contrived way of putting father and daughter together in an improbable meeting that no Rebel officer would give the go-ahead to.  Fortunately, it lasts even shorter in the comics than it does in the movie, so there's that.

In my blog post about Issue #2, I mention that science fiction is better suited to television than it is to movies.  On Facebook, I further stated that science fiction is best suited to books, magazines, and comics.  Then television.  Then movies.  Of course, I like books, magazines, and comics more than I like TV, and I like TV more than I like movies, so I hope this doesn't belie a sense of certainty in this assessment.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Green Lanterns #23

Green Lanterns (2016-) #23

Green Lanterns, Issue #23 begins with Jessica Cruz stripped of her Lantern emblem and undergoing basic training with Guy Gardner, while Simon Baz is undergoing advanced training with Kyle Rayner and Volthoom in the body of Rami is tasked with the rebuilding of the Green Lantern Corps rings.  Then it goes into a story from 10 billion years ago that I didn't quite follow, something about the Old Gods.

I don't see where this title is going right now.  "Training" arcs can work pretty well, in genres as diverse as Rocky and Hunter X Hunter or Naruto.  I just haven't gotten into the Volthoom arc yet, but it seems likely that the creators know where they're going with it.  I do like the Rayner/Baz and Gardner/Cruz scenes so far.  We'll just have to see where the title goes from here.

The Gospel According to Jesus Christ


The Gospel According to Jesus Christ is the book that got author Jose Saramago banished from his native Portugal.  It's the story of Jesus Christ - a story of Jesus Christ because there can no longer be just one story of Him.  Portraying Jesus as a complex and flawed man, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ describes the entire life of Jesus Christ, focusing on His young adulthood, from the age of 14 until He meets Mary of Magdalene, although it also describes His conception, birth, and first few days on Earth.

Needless to say, the Roman Catholic Church hated this work.  I see it as akin to Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha, a religious work written by someone not of that religion, as paradoxical as that may sound.  Saramago himself is not religious and of course not a Christian.  He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1994, and this work played heavily in the judges' decision to give him that prize.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Rogue One #2


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Issue #2 introduces several new characters, including the blind priest and Saw Gerrera.  The main character, with the utterly forgettable name of Jyn Erso, has gone to the holy city of Jedha, where the Empire is mining for Kyber Crystals, which are used in the making of both Jedi lightsabers and the Death Star.  From what I've read, the Sith lightsbers are red because they cannot sense Kyber Crystals after turning to the Dark Side of the Force, but somehow, they happened upon a bunch.

Perhaps it's a cultural icon of the Sith to use red lightsabers, and given that the Empire found a whole bunch of Kyber Crystals pretty easily, it's not out of the realm of possibility that they could use other-colored lightsabers if they'd chosen to do so.  I didn't like the movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; it lacks the flow and energy of even the prequel trilogy, which many people didn't like, and it lacks the characters of the other seven movies.  Sure, it's a statement that the characters all die, but I didn't find one of them that I could relate to.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Green Lanterns #22

Green Lanterns (2016-) #22 by [Humphries, Sam]

Green Lanterns, Issue #22 starts the "Lost in Space" arc.  Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz, in the middle of fighting Magneto, are called to Planet Mogo.  Mogo is a sentient planet that is a member of the Green Lantern Corps and now the Green Lantern Corps' homeworld.  Needless to say, Jessica Cruz freaks out.  She calls a halt to their redeployment, and she is met by Kyle Rayner, who calms her down and helps her get to Mogo, safe and sound.  Oh, and in case you've forgotten about Volthoom, he's still in the body of Rami, the rogue Guardian, and he's reunited with the last two remaining Guardians.

I loved this issue.  For the past 22 issues, I've simply been enjoying Baz and Cruz, but now they're being brought back into the main Green Lantern storyline, which has taken place in the series Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps.  I haven't kept up with that series, so it was nice to see some more galactic trouble included in the Green Lanterns series.  I'll be reading Issue #23 forthwith.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Green Lanterns #21

Green Lanterns, Issue #21 is the first Green Lantern comic I've read in a while. I figured I'd start reading an issue a week or two of my favorite comics until I caught up. The current list includes Green Lanterns, Copperhead, Rogue One, Kill or Be Killed, and Old Man Logan. I'm just as busy as before, but I've found time to read a few comics a week.

There are a couple of reasons why I picked Green Lanterns despite it coming out every two weeks. The characters and situations are as complex as those in a good novel. Volthoom isn't in this issue, but I can't wait for him to come back. Also, Issue #22 promises to tie in with the Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps arc. I'm a fan. 

100 Years of Solitude

Cien años de soledad (book cover, 1967).jpg

100 Years of Solitude is like a grand symphony because the reader can enjoy it on many levels.  When my mother read it a few years ago with her book club, she was given 100 pages of notes on the novel and expected to know all the relationships and how each character relates to every other character.  I know that some people love doing this to novels, but in the end, she didn't really find it enjoyable the way I did.  

Before writing novels, Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote for newspapers.  There, he learned how to write short pieces that people could get information and enjoyment out of.  The texture of his novels, in that vein, is very complex.  You can pick almost any two pages at random and enjoy them as a mini-story within the novel.  When I read Love in the Time of Cholera, I was struck by how funny it was.  100 Years of Solitude is funny and fun as well, but in a different way.  Needless to say, I loved it.  

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Punisher #13


The Punisher, Issue #13 sees Frank Castle on the streets of New York again.  In Issue #1 through Issue #12, he was hot on the tracks of the producers and traffickers of a super-soldier serum called EMC.  A lot of people died in that one, so he took a vacation to heal his wounds.  When he comes back, one of his guns is missing, a real Dirty Harry model.  He has to track it down, and in doing so, he has to punish some people, including the high-school student who broke into his lair.  The kid gets off with a warning, of course.

What I love about Becky Cloonan's The Punisher is what goes unsaid.  Every frame tells a story, and the characters - even the minor ones - are exceptionally well realized.  The kid who stole Frank's gun, for instance, is on a math scholarship to a private school, and he needs money to buy a "Stitch," a Nintendo-Switch-like gaming system he shows off to his friends.  When Frank tells the kid to do his homework and get a part-time job, you expect that he does.  You kind of root for the kid to do well and show up years later as a lawyer or something.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Trouble on Paradise

Trouble on Paradise Audiobook

Trouble on Paradise is Book 3.5 in Craig Alanson's "Expeditionary Forces" series.  It takes place on the Ruhar-held world of Paradise, where tens of thousands of humans have been abandoned by their former allies, the Kristang.  Colonel Joe and the super-powerful, super-intelligent A.I, Skippy don't make an appearance, and the novel features minor characters from the first three books, along with a new character, the Burgermeister's nephew, Nerk.

I've been addicted to this series, reading all three 18-hour audiobooks in the space of a month.  When this less-than-six-hour book came out, I was excited despite its lack of length.  When I started reading it and found out that Colonel Joe and Skippy don't appear, I was initially nonplussed, but I grew to love this novella because of one character, Nerk.  Alanson has a great way with humor, and RC Bray narrates the series admirably.  I can't wait for Book 4 to come out.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Clue #1


Clue, Issue #1 is the latest IDW title coming straight to you from the world of retro entertainment, in this case, a board game.  In the years before video games, we actually had to (**shudder**) spend time with other people, and one of the ways we did this was playing board games like Monopoly, Parcheesi, and Clue.  The premise of the game was that one of the characters is the murderer, and the players would go through rooms, looking for clues.  I forget the details of the game beyond that, but it was made into a movie starring Tim Curry.  That movie was successful enough to launch a franchise.  

I bought this title because of Paul Allor, the author.  His title, Tet, blew me away.  I've always wanted to read more of his work, but most of what he's done is media tie-in fiction that I haven't been as interested in.  I bought one of his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trades but didn't read it, as I was a little too old for the cartoon when it came out, and I hadn't started reading comics yet (I started four years ago, at the age of 40).  I like the issue, and I'll continue to buy more.  

The Sorrows of Young Werther

The Sorrows of Young Werther was Goethe's bestselling novel when he was alive, and I'm trying to understand why.  Written over the course of a month when Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was 24, The Sorrows of Young Werther is a seemingly typical Romantic novel, but it was written and published in 1774, well before such works were common.  It glorifies suicide, and even well over a century later, people were emulating the final suicide in the book.

I read the audiobook, which played the same annoying piano theme every 15 minutes.  To say the least, I didn't love it.  I do like the literary movement of Germany during this time - Goethe, Schiller, Lenz, Klinger - it's called Sturm und Drang, and of course, The Sorrows of Young Werther is the best example of that movement.  Perhaps there is too much foreshadowing, or perhaps I was betrayed the ending and several themes by the introduction and the general reputation of the novel.

I am underplaying how gripping this novel is.  You know he's going to kill himself in the end, but how and why?  This is a great novel, and I did find myself reading it at five o'clock in the morning, rushing to finish it.  I'm sure that my next book will be of the space-opera-featuring-a-talking-beer-can variety, but I'm enjoying my journeys into classic literature.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Rogue One #1


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Issue #1 came out three weeks ago, but I'm just getting caught up on the title.  I'm not a fan of the movie Rogue One, but I thought I'd give the comic adaptation a shot.  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, to me, borders on fan-fiction.  It's clever in the way it stitches the holes in A New Hope, but it fails to be a great movie on its own, the way even The Phantom Menace does (I know, I'm hearing boos and hisses from my audience).  None of the characters of Rogue One, minus the cameos, live up to even Poe Dameron or Finn, and I wasn't a huge fan of The Force Awakens.

The cover by Phil Noto drew me in, and although I'm not familiar with the creators of the comic - minus VC's Clayton Cowles, who does the lettering - this is a good adaptation.  It has the pacing and timing that the movie lacks, although I don't know if I'd have as hard a time reading the entire story as I did sitting through the entire movie.  I do know that I'm going to keep reading this title.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Shadow of the Wind


The Shadow of the Wind is a Spanish novel by Carlos Ruiz Zafon which takes place in Barcelona in 1950. The protagonist, Daniel Sempre, begins as a 10-year-old boy who goes with his father to a cemetery for books, where he must pick a book to protect.  Most of the novel takes place when he is in his mid-teens, drawn into a game of intrigue that involves mystery, arson, and even murder.  With a cast of dozens of engaging characters, it weaves them together in unexpected ways.

Zafon was famous for young adult fiction, and this was his first "adult" novel.  It's "adult" in its depiction of torture, sex, and death, but it's also a character-driven coming-of-age novel.  Daniel makes the typical mistakes of youth but soon, faced with incredible situations, does incredible things.  The two antagonists, Francisco Javier Fumero and the mysterious man who burns books, are the real highlight of the novel, as is Daniel's friend and mentor, Fermin Romero de Torres.

Saga #44

Saga #44

Saga, Issue #44 sees Marko and Alana in the Badlands outside Abortion Town, looking for a doctor that will remove the dead fetus from Alana's womb.  The cadre of their allies is growing thinner and thinner, as even Petrichor is in the sights of bandits as the issue ends.  Quite frankly, I can't handle losing another character, as so many of them died in the seventh arc, notably in Issue #42.  There is also a confusing dream sequence involving Alana, who has gained magical powers somehow.

Petrichor shines in this issue, even though the intersex Wreathean only appears in a few pages.  She's lonely, and she's hoping for a partner, which seems unlikely, given her situation.  It's about time for some new characters, and perhaps one of them will end up in an intersex love scene with her.  Like always, the comedy of this title shines through.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Titan #5


Titan, Issue #5 is the conclusion of a wonderful space opera, pitting the humans versus the Titans, a genetically engineered race of humans that are twice as tall, twice as productive, and incapable of living on the high gravity of Earth because of their great size.  Touching on themes of love, betrayal, rebellion, unionism, and war, Titan takes place at the end of the 22nd century, mostly on Saturn's moon of Titan.  The scenery is magnificent for a trichromatic comic, the scope galactic, the characters unforgettable.

I wasn't expecting Issue #5 to come out this week, but my local comic book store clerk knew I was a big fan of the title and pointed it out to me.  It's a double issue - 64 pages instead of 32 - with a few pages of excess prose to complete the story near the end, but it's easy to read.  One of the things I love about this title is the language; it has its own slang, and personal titles are written without vowels, like "MNGR Joao" instead of "Manager Joao."  The detail of the writing is superb.

Friday, June 30, 2017

I Am Groot #1

I Am Groot (2017-) #1

I Am Groot, Issue #1 starts off as a "Guardians of the Galaxy" comic, with the whole gang flying through space.  Star Lord is in command, but when he hits the head, baby Groot, who hasn't grown up much, takes control, flying them toward a strange object in space.  Just as they are trying to figure out what it is, Groot flies them through it into another dimension.  They get back just in time, as the anomaly is closing, but during all the chaos, Groot took an escape pod down to the planet.  The baby Groot is all by himself.

Anyway, that's the setup.  Issue #2 came out on Wednesday, but I wanted to see if I liked Issue #1 enough to keep reading it.  I am starting to read more comics, so if I get through all or almost all of the comics I bought this week, I'll buy Issue #2 next week.  I'm kinda' intrigued by someone trying to understand the language of baby Groot.  The fact that I read it at all today, with Titan, Issue #5; The Punisher, Issue #13; and Saga, Issue #44 all coming out this week is encouraging.  I'm interested.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Moby Dick or The Whale

Moby Dick or The Whale is a classic, and there's probably not much new I can say about it.  I found interesting the parallels between it and Solaris by Stanislaw Lem, for instance.  I always loved the scientific writing about Solaris, the planet, but I never knew that the interspersing of them into the story came from Melville, or apparently did.  Another thing that surprised me about Moby Dick was the ecological angle.  Although it was written a century and a half ago, Moby Dick discusses advanced issues such as extinction and overfishing.

What isn't mentioned is that whales are sentient beings worthy of protection.  Melville's characterization of Moby Dick is one of personification; he gives the whale human motives and behaviors.  Missing from the novel is the very sentience of whales in general, who are generalized as mere cattle, the catching of which is so simple that it deserves only the basest of descriptions.  Only Moby Dick himself is intelligent enough to avoid capture, making him supernatural rather than sentient.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Garden of Words

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The Garden of Words is a highly acclaimed one-shot manga book from 2013 that was made into a movie the year it came out.  The basic story is of a 15-year-old boy and a 27-year-old woman who become friends in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo.  They meet one day when both are playing hookey, him from school to draw pictures of women's shoes, and her from work to drink beer and eat chocolate.  They initially speak very little, but when she parts with a poem fragment, he becomes obsessed, and they meet every morning it rains.  Later on, he finds out that she is a teacher at his school.

I love short manga like this, especially romance.  While Nisekoi has gone on for nearly 30 volumes and A Silent Voice for seven, The Garden of Words sits by itself as a simple work of 200 pages.  There's something to be said about these books, not traditional romance but more "slice of life," to use an overused term.  I absolutely loved it.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Copperhead #12

Copperhead #12

Copperhead, Issue #12 begins with Clara Bronson reacting to the revelation from Issue #11 that Zeke has become the new mayor.  She doesn't like it, but Zeke claims that he won't be the puppet of Copperhead's richest citizen, Hickory, and that he'll actually do some good.  She goes home to find more trouble there.  Clay Ford is in town, and she and he have history together.  On top of that is the revelation that the old mayor wasn't killed by a bullet but by some sort of alien worm.

I haven't read much of Copperhead's third arc - I kinda' took a break from comics around the time it started - but somehow I remember all of the characters in it.  It's always been one of my favorite "what if" comics.  What if it had a long run?  What if it got some crossover exposure?  I really think it's good, for fans of Saga and Firefly.  I'll try to catch up next week.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Old Man Logan #21 and #22

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Old Man Logan, Issue #21 and Issue #22 form the first half of the "Past Lives" arc.  In Issue #20, Old Man Logan freed Asmodeus from prison only to become trapped, himself - in time.  Logan finds himself fighting the War of 1812, being tested on in Weapon X, seeing Jean Grey turn into Phoenix, and seeing other ghosts from his past.  Powerless to change the pasts he visits so far, he must keep hold of a magical medallion given to him by Asmodeus who controls Logan's body back in the present, where he's selling it to the highest bidder.

This is an interesting arc, and I by no mean want to disparage it, but it plays like a "Greatest Hits" album or a "Clip Episode" of The Simpsons.  It is being done with a new artistic team (E. Nguyen and Mossa).  I do love the old team of Sorrentino and Maiolo, but this team is just as good and definitely up to the task of revisiting pieces of Wolverine's past.  I also think that this may be one of the more memorable series I've come across in the past two years or so, perhaps worthy of an omnibus.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Paradise (Expeditionary Force Book 3)

Paradise is the third book in Craig Alanson's "Expeditionary Force" series, which runs four long novels and a novella.  In the near future, Earth is invaded by the hamster-like Ruhar and saved/occupied/enslaved by the reptilian Kristang.  In the series, humans are a technologically backward race, with even the Ruhar and the Kristang relatively low on the totem pole.  The protagonist, Joe Bishop, a shockingly young colonel in the UNEF, gets help from an artificial intelligence created by a long-gone race known as the Elders, and the series is off and running.

The A.I. gets the name "Skippy the Magnificent," and he is effectively the most powerful being in the universe, but his programming prevents him from talking with beings capable of interstellar travel, so he must talk only with humans.  He's by far the most interesting character I've read in science fiction in some years, perhaps ever.  He and Joe Bishop are constantly trading barbs, and the series would almost be sci-fi comedy if it weren't so tragic.

In this novel, there are humans on the planet Paradise.  They were brought there by the Kristang to supervise the local Ruhar population.  When the Ruhar retake the planet and humans cooperate with them in a desperate battle to survive, the Kristang decree the humans enemy combatants.  So, when the Ruhar trade Paradise and the humans on it for more valuable territory, Joe Bishop, Skippy, and their crew of "Pirates" must find a way to get the Ruhar to keep the planet.

I've read all three audiobooks in the past month and a half and the last two in the past week and a half, so you know this is a good series.  Alanson isn't exactly great literature, so I intersperse my reading with books that are; before reading Paradise, I read The Beautiful and Damned, and now I'm reading Moby Dick, although there is a great misconception that comedy isn't great literature or even great art.  There are also complaints of spelling errors in the original text.  Either way, I love these books.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Old Man Logan #20

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor Old Man Logan #20

Old Man Logan, Issue #20 is the second part of the two-issue "Gone Real Bad" story.  In the first issue, Logan tries to persuade his magic-wielding friends to send him into his past, where he saved one of David Banner's grandchildren.  In that timeline, he abandons the grandson, and that grandson - under the influence of someone else - grows up to be the most tyrannical ruler the Wastelands have ever seen.  Logan has to go back to that part of his past (which is actually in the future) and save the grandson before he becomes evil.

Issue #19 sees Logan about to break Asmodeus out of prison.  In Issue #20, he does, bringing Asmodeus his scepter and robe.  To complete the spell, they must go to the secret location where Asmodeus keeps his sacred and magic objects, a storage compartment in New Jersey.  Asmodeus keeps his end of the bargain - he sends Logan into his past - but he doesn't send him exactly into the past Logan wants.  Issue #21 sees Logan fighting the War of 1812.

The Unworthy Thor #5

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor The Unworthy Thor #5 jason aaron

The Unworthy Thor, Issue #5 concludes the limited series.  Odinson finds the other Mjolnir, wields it, and returns Asgard to its place in the universe.  The big question is whether the other Mjolnir calls for him; it doesn't, so he leaves it on the ground on Asgard, where it waits for the person to whom it calls.  Thor continues on with his battle axe and his talking canine, freed from the Collector, along with the Collector's other creatures.

I'll admit it; I was swerved by the ending.  I thought Odinson would ride off into the sunset with his new Mjolnir and become regular old Thor again.  The story ties into an earlier story where the God Butcher tells then-Thor that all the gods are Unworthy.  Odinson realizes that he must remain unworthy, perhaps to become worthy in the future.  The story will be continued in Ultimate Thor.  I have read a few Thor limited series and series, but I've never been a huge fan, although Jason Aaron is starting to turn me around.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Beautiful and Damned


The Beautiful and Damned is F. Scott Fitzgerald's second novel.  Like The Great Gatsby, it's short on plot and heavy on characters.  Anthony Patch is a rich kid in 1910s America, and Gloria Gilbert is his wife.  Initially living on a trust fund, they find themselves totally incapable of living on their own once Anthony's grandfather, Andy Patch, disinherits him.  While Gloria totally fails as an actress, Anthony fails as a soldier, a salesman, and a general drunk.

I like to compare the Fitzgerald novel to the "Impressionist" era of music.  Before Debussy and Ravel, classical music followed rigid rules and conventions.  These two composers wouldn't build up to a chord in the normal way; they'd just play it and let it sit.  For Debussy and Ravel, chords - as for Fitzgerald, characters - just existed to please the audience.  And Fitzgerald, like Debussy and Ravel, created his own rules and conventions to create the modern novel.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Punisher #12

The Punisher (2016) #12The Punisher, Issue #12 ends the C.O.N.D.O.R. storyline, but not the series, which is set to continue with Issue #13. There are hints in the back materials that the antagonist of the series, Olaf, will make a return at some point. Other than Olaf - who ends up in DEA custody - C.O.N.D.O.R. is finished. The remaining super-soldier drug EMC has sunk into the ocean, and the facilities to make more are destroyed. The good guys have won.

While I loved the EMC arc, 12 issues is about as long as it could have gone, and I'd be disappointed if Issue #13 involved it. EMC does make soldiers impervious to pain as well as stronger and faster, but a bunch of top mercenaries got their butts kicked despite being on it, so it doesn't seem so great. This is good stuff, and I'm looking forward to reading more. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Punisher #11

The Punisher (2016) #11

The Punisher, Issue #11 begins with Frank Castle tied up on a ship full of EMC, the super-soldier drug C.O.N.D.O.R. wants to sell to fuel its drug enterprise.  I don't think it's that much of a spoiler to tell you what happens next.  Of course, the Punisher gets out of danger, blows up the ship, and kills everyone - that's what he does - but the way he does it is imaginative and well realized, and I've become a fan of Becky Cloonan's Punisher.

The arc and maybe the series will conclude with Issue #12; I hope the series doesn't.  I haven't been reading too many comics, but this is one of the series that gets me right back into the swing of things.  I've been hacking for Lyft, and between rides I read audiobooks.  This has taken up a lot of my book-reading and comic-reading energy, but damn.  The Punisher is awesome, and I've really enjoyed this iteration.  I'll go back and buy Vol. 3 and Vol. 4 of The Punisher MAX: The Complete Collection as soon as I finish this and get to work on that.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


Bildergebnis für specops alanson

SpecOps is the second book in the "Expeditionary Force" series by Craig Alanson, and it's very good science fiction.  A mix of military sci-fi and comedy, it fits a unique niche in the literary world.  Joe Bishop is an average guy who finds himself, along with an absent-minded A.I. who's millions of years old, in charge of a starship with a crew of 12 scientists and 56 soldiers from various countries, including himself.  Most of the soldiers are highly trained "special operations" forces.

I've continued to enjoy this textured and vast vision of the galaxy.  The books are longish at 15 or 16 hours, and I liked the first book so much that I bought the second and third right away.  The comedy mostly comes in the form of the A.I. named "Skippy," who's constantly forgetting things and constantly insulting Joe Bishop and the crew.  It is light entertainment, not as dark as its predecessor.  Since reading SpecOps, I've moved onto something denser, but I'm a fan.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Saga #43

Saga #43

Saga, Issue #43 comes to you at the blindingly cheap price of $0.25; it starts a new arc and briefly recaps the series for people reading it for the first time.  In Issue #42, Alana gets kicked in the stomach, and the baby is pretty much dead.  Alana will die if the baby isn't removed, but there are two problems.  She's eight months pregnant - and the baby still has a beating heart - so local laws don't allow an abortion.  Also, any abortion she does have will expose her half-Landfalian/half-Wreathian child to the world.

Saga doesn't shy away from controversy, but it still remains a great comic.  The abortion laws mirror those of Ireland, where a woman can't get an abortion for any reason while the unborn fetus still has a beating heart.  Baby and mother going to die?  Let 'em die, even if they aren't Catholic, even if they aren't Irish citizens.   I wrote about queer theory in my last review, and there's a trans character traveling with the family.  Hazel, Marco and Alana's daughter, asks the trans character about her penis, for instance.

Steam Clean

Steam clean by laura Ķeniņš

Steam Clean takes place in a sauna for women in Europe, where a group of women has gathered for a queer party.  A lot of people don't understand why there's a "Q" in "LGBTQ," so I'll briefly explain: "queer" refers to all of the above in "LGBTQ" and more.  "Queer" doesn't assume binary genders or binary sexuality, so someone might be homoflexible, meaning they are mostly homosexual but occasionally go for other genders as well.  The group of women include a few friends, a FTM transgender who has had top surgery, and a goddess.

No, they don't all go at it once they get naked; get your mind out of the gutter.  They talk, about gender fluidity, sexuality, online dating, not fitting in, work inequality, date rape, and queer theory.  I found the longish (84 page) Retrofit title to be fairly interesting.  The artwork is done with color pencil, and it has detailed backgrounds with simple yet recognizable faces.  I can't begin to explain the techniques used because I'm not an artist, but the overall impression is one of tension.  The women argue and discuss sensitive matters.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Stories of Your Life and Others

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Stories of Your Life and Others is a 2002 collection of science-fiction short stories written roughly over the previous decade, the titular story of which was the inspiration for the movie Arrival (2016).  Spanning a number of topics from the Tower of Babel to language to enhanced intelligence, Stories of Your Life and Others brings to light an underappreciated art form.  The death of newspapers and magazines has gone hand-in-hand with the death of the short story.  While short stories continue to be the bases of popular movies, I'm afraid that soon, the only place short stories will be read is in the classroom, along with poetry and other vestiges of the past.

That is too bad because there are a number of great short-story writers out there, including Stephen King and Haruki Murakami.  Philip K. Dick wrote scores of popular short stories in the 1950s and 1960s, but he mostly gave up on the medium, as did other science-fiction writers, for a more lucrative form of expression, the novel.  I didn't love every short story in this collection - one never does - but these stories inspire me to look out for more short fiction, and that's the best praise I can give them.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Secret Garden

Image result for The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden is a book that haunted my childhood.  I hadn't read it before, but I was told its story by my grandmother.  One day, in the third grade, I was puking my guts out at school.  Me being picked up halfway through school was a rare occurrence, since any time I was remotely ill, I would whine and cry until my mother let me stay home alone and watch TV.  On that day, my grandmother picked me up.  She drove me home, and instead of letting me watch TV, she spent two hours telling me the story of The Secret Garden.

I always meant to read the book, but by the time I'd forgotten enough of it to enjoy the story, I'd already outgrown it, moving on to Isaac Asimov and Star Wars.  The previous two books I've read, Jose Saramago's Blindness and Alice Walker's The Color Purple, are decidedly bleak books.  I don't know if I was ready for a book as candy-red as The Secret Garden, but it was pleasant, nonetheless.  I think I'll get back into something a tiny bit heavier next.

Thursday, June 1, 2017


Book cover of Ensaio sobre a Cegueira.jpg

Blindness is one of the most terrifying books I've ever read.  Written by 1998 Portuguese Nobel Laureate, Jose Saramago in 1995, it tells the story of a mysterious white blindness that infects Saramago's home nation of Portugal.  Just as Dante tortures Italians in The Divine Comedy, Saramago tortures the members of his nation, portraying them as quite awful human beings in addition to infecting them with an illness that basically wipes them out.  The heart of the novel takes place in an internment camp, where people struck by the blindness and suspected of being struck by the blindness are housed with minimal facilities and minimal food.

The first third of the book sets up the scene and the characters in the abandoned mental hospital that is used to intern the blind people in hopes of keeping the sickness from spreading.  It is dark, but one could almost imagine it being a high-school play.  Then it turns into equal parts Andersonville and Lord of the Flies, plus well, you can guess what they do to the women.  The final third sees the main characters escaping the camp as the blindness spreads to the entire nation.

I read the audiobook, which is a lot easier than reading Saramago in print.  Saramago doesn't use quotation marks or paragraph breaks to separate the different speakers.  This distinction is effected in the audiobook by the narrator using different and consistent voices for each character.  Blindness is an incredible piece of literature, and it was mentioned in particular by the Nobel committee when it awarded Saramago the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1998.  I've already bought another book by this author.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

On the Camino

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On the Camino is Jason's autobiographical graphic novel about walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.  He completed the 500-mile journey from Bayonne to Santiago on foot in 2015.  It's actually funny because I've read everything Jason has published in English at least once, but I realized that I didn't know much about Jason, the man.  He apparently suffers from some form of shyness/social anxiety, and the book begins with him agonizing over talking to other pilgrims.  He just has trouble saying, "hello."

This is a deeply personal work and a departure from other graphic novels, which are fiction.  A typical Jason story is two people falling in love and having a tumultuous relationship only to come together at the end following an invasion of giant beetles.  Jason does work with source material, but he's mostly at home spinning fantastic yarns about alien queens and bank heists gone awry.  He uses his trademark artistic style, line drawings of anthropomorphic animals taking the place of humans.  It is not colored, which some people actually prefer, as the colorization is done by a secondary artist.