kaberett: A drawing of a black woman holding her right hand, minus a ring finger, in front of her face. "Oh, that. I cut it  off." (molly - cut it off)
[personal profile] kaberett
This came into my possession via the latest Humble Ebook Bundle, and I am so glad it did. This is how glad I am: I am about two-thirds of the way through it and I can't wait to finish before I tell you all how good it is.

The protagonist, Hanna, is sixteen, manic depressive (and explicitly, canonically prefers that descriptor to "bipolar", Because Reasons), and Finnish-"island girl" (Hawaiian?), raised (for most of her life) in Dallas. She describes herself as biracial and bicultural, and she's bilingual in English and Finnish - and the codeswitching is genuinely plausibly represented.

The dude she ends up hanging around with a lot is the same age, Latino, and bilingual in Spanish and English - again, really nicely represented.

The story takes place in creepy smalltown Texas. It's sub/urban fantasy and abusive parents and a critique of the medical-industrial complex and teenagers having (complicated, not always happy) sex lives all tied up in tight, funny monster-killing brilliance. It's lovely.

Content notes. )
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[personal profile] seekingferret
21 India Calling by Anand Giridharadas

India Calling is a book I read as I tried to write Midnight's Children fanfiction, updating Rushdie's style for an India that has changed since that book was written thirty years ago. It is in some senses typical of a booming sub-genre of nonfiction works about "the New India", coming to grips with the rise of capitalism, the rise of economic and social and intellectual mobility, and all the associated changes those things bring with them. There are a lot of such books- Giridharadas comfortably situates himself within the subgenre by comparing his experiences to those reported in a few of them. As I ended up writing in my story, "Anyone with a pen and paper is writing that India doesn't have a story, and they will sell it to you if you give them the chance."

Giridharadas himself was the son of Indian immigrants to America who then moved back to India as an adult. His perspective is interesting. He's an outsider, but he speaks the language and knows intellectually the customs, so he can get past the exoticization that true Westerners visiting India often subject their readers to. But his perspective is still outsiderly. He feels comfortable reproaching native Indians for behaviors he finds misguided, but also spends a lot of time deconstructing his own mistaken assumptions about India- as backward, religiously intolerant, unambitious, and addicted to poverty and corruption. I really appreciated the humility he brought to his study.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and though I don't think I ended up using any specific details from it in the fic, the sense he gave me of how India has evolved and how people feel about the evolution ended up being a major guiding force as I developed themes.

22 Dancers on the Shore by William M. Kelley

Kelley is a writer I would never have known about had I not literally googled for African-American literary novelists when I first started doing [community profile] 50books_poc, about three and a half years ago, and discovering him is one of the things I am most grateful to this challenge for. He writes gracefully and complicatedly about the mid-20th-century African-American experience and at times the broader American experience. A Different Drummer, his debut novel, which was one of the first books I read for this challenge, remains one of my favorites.

Dancers on the Shore is a short story collection published not long after A Different Drummer, and it is more of a mixed bag, as short story collections often are. Some of the stories are a part of a roughly continuous family cycle that continues throughout Kelley's novels and culminates in the messy post-modern soup of Dunfords Travels Everywheres. Others are standalone. Some of them feel like early sketches added to fill up the book, while others are marvelous in the depth of character and emotion that Kelly is able to show in so little space.

Though all of his characters are African-American, explicit and even implicit discussions of racial politics are rare (the first page is an invocation from the author begging to be treated as an author instead of as an African-American author who has anything at all to say about the Race Question). The stories are mostly family dramas, characters discovering things about themselves and about the people close to them. A mother contemplates divorcing her husband. A son visits his extended family and learns about his father's childhood. A young woman contemplates an illegal abortion. Two old men endure retirement together. All of these subjects are handled with sensitivity and ambiguity.

23 Terminal Point by KM Ruiz

I loved the first book in Ruiz's Stryker Syndicate series of cyberpunky post-apocalyptic psionic action-adventures, but this one, the second, was more uneven. It was beautifully plotted and paced, and it had more of the great characters from the first book, but it stinted on setting. I knew I was in for a good show with Mind Storm from the first scene, which threw us on a train moving across the radioactive wasteland between the husk of Las Vegas and the husk oif Los Angeles. The location was so atmospheric, interesting, and real feeling that it intensified all of the action. Terminal Point bounces through a lot more locations, and a lot more exotic locations, but none of them feel as rich and real as the settings from the first book. Many of them have their interesting features infodumped at us rather than being allowed to present themselves naturally. The plot subordinated the world building, unfortunately, and the result was a book that offered satisfying resolution to open plots from the first book, but not a book that was as satisfying on its own terms.
sumofparts: picture of books with text 'books are humanity in print' (books)
[personal profile] sumofparts
Sort of a mid-year update. It's been a while since I read some of these so I've just written short impressions but feel free to ask about any of the books.

33. Alentejo Blue by Monica Ali
34. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
35. The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
36. Valmiki's Daughter by Shani Mootoo
37. Skim written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
38. Henry Chow and other stories edited by R. David Stephens (white)

Alentejo Blue by Monica Ali
This was a well-written book but ultimately disappointing because it just didn't feel like it was going anywhere. Judging from the Goodreads reviews, this was a departure from Brick Lane, which I'll still try eventually.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Like other posters on the comm, I enjoyed this book but it was not without its flaws, which I think everyone else has covered pretty well.

The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
I liked the book but I don't feel everything gelled very well for me. I did like how the main character wasn't always the most sympathetic.

Valmiki's Daughter by Shani Mootoo
Gorgeous writing and evocative descriptions but similar to The New Moon's Arms, something didn't quite click for me. Still, I'd definitely try this author's other books.

Skim written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki.
Very detailed and beautiful drawings that really capture the story. Equal credit should be given to author and illustrator.

Henry Chow and Other Stories by various authors, edited by R. David Stephens
Enjoyable but uneven collection of short stories for teenagers. I liked the different story settings and character perspectives. From the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop.

a: ali monica, a: hopkinson nalo, a: mootoo shani, a: mariko tamaki, i: tamaki jillian, w-e: stephens r david, short stories, fantasy, lit fic, young adult, coming of age, graphic novel, bangladeshi-british, latin@, dominican-american, caribbean-canadian, jamaican, trinidadian, asian-canadian, chinese-canadian, japanese-canadian, glbt, women writers
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[personal profile] seekingferret
17 Mind Storm by K.M. Ruiz

This is really good cyberpunky post-apocalyptic action-adventure with psionics. It is loaded with gee whiz, basically. I discovered it in the Yuletide suggestions post, but I'm not sure it'd make a good Yuletide fandom. It'd make a great rpg setting, though. Perhaps a Gamma World mod. It's sufficiently gonzo, though it also has some Shadowrunny things going on.

The story begins with a little Mad Max- a team of government agents moves across an irradiated desert wasteland on a secret mission to track down a rogue. After just enough time to introduce us to our heroes, we're given an explosive fight scene in fallen LA that throws open the door to startling revelations. And while the combat slows down from there as we move into the intrigues and preparations of the middle part of the book, the pace never slows down. There is a continuous stream of new faces, new alliances, new pieces of information. And there is a gorgeous plan driving the story, an interlocking plot of great intricacy designed to look to its participants like utter chaos.

I am eagerly looking forward to future books in the series. This one was certainly a lot of fun, and it left plenty of questions open for the sequels.

And note that this book is eligible for Best Novel in the 2012 Hugo Awards.

18 John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead

I've been stalled on Whitehead's Zone One for about a month now, but I plowed through this with a vengeance. Actually, that's not quite true. I read it eagerly for a while, got sidetracked into a bit of a Nick Hornby kick, then returned and plowed through it with a vengeance. That's important to note because when I returned to John Henry Days from the airy wit of Hornby the density of Whitehead's writing was a bit of a shock to the system.

Whitehead writes heavy, overloaded prose that I admire the hell out of. He stays just on the edges of his characters' minds so that all you can see of them is the shadows and echoes cast off. There is always a remoteness to Whitehead's writing: in John Henry Days, the main character is known only by his first initial for the entire novel. His first name is implied once or twice, but never stated, and even when he tells someone what it is on the final page, the reader isn't let in on the 'secret'.

But what impressed me about John Henry Days is that despite sharing this remoteness with The Intuitionist and especially Apex Hides the Hurt, this time around Whitehead's emotional narratives go so much further. I became invested in J. I became invested in Pamela. I became invested in their relationship. I wanted them to get together. I wanted J. to leave the business, delete himself from the List, teach Pamela how to bury her father and I don't know, live happy hipster lives in Brooklyn? Of course this novel was heading for a horrible ending, but I was invested enough in it to be devastated by that ending even though I knew it was inevitable. Which is the core, I think, of the John Henry legend that the novel dances around. Was John Henry's death inevitable and if it was inevitable, why?
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[identity profile] sumofparts.livejournal.com
Haven't posted in a while. Here's a series of mini-reviews with some spoilers. Also, some of the books contain potentially triggering content.

6. Un-Nappily in Love by Trisha R. Thomas
7. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
8. Tracks by Louise Erdrich
9. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
10. Umbrella by Taro Yashima
11. Little Joy by Ruowen Wang
12. Why War is Never a Good Idea by Alice Walker
13. Erika-san by Allen Say
14. Dahanu Road by Anosh Irani
15. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
16. The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez
17. In the Company of Ogres by A. Lee Martinez
18. Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
19. Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez
20. Monster by A. Lee  Martinez
21. Certainty by Madeleine Thien
22. So Long Been Dreaming edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan
23. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
24. Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez
25. A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez
26. A Person of Interest by Susan Choi
27. Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead

Mention (not counted)
Josias, Hold the Book by Jennifer Riesmeyer Elvgren (white); illustrated by Nicole Tadgell (person of colour)

Read more... )
[identity profile] seekingferret.livejournal.com
5)A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez

Martinez's fiction has thus far proved reliably entertaining. This is an inverted fantasy quest novel, with the titular witch serving as the protagonist and leader of a motley band of adventurers including a demonic duck, a troll, an animated broom, and... a white knight. This is the inversion I spoke of. Instead of having the manly-man, angsty white knight lead the quest, he serves as the love interest and sidekick to the witch, who is in fact nameless for most of the novel.

It's at times a funny novel, at times a scary novel, and at times it even gets fantasy- imagining new worlds- right. It is always a fun novel. And as with Gil's All-Fright Diner, it is particularly good at making sex funny.

Thumbs up, all around. I commented to someone recently that I've been enjoying 50Books_POC a lot, and reading a lot of great books, but it's almost all been 'good books'. When I want to shut off my brain, stop wrestling with Rushdie, and read something comfortable, silly, and plotted straightforwardly I keep defaulting to old pulp fiction by white writers. But Martinez works well in that vein. And when I returned to Midnight's Children today it rippled with a new freshness because of my time away.

tags: a:martinez a lee, latino/a, mexican-american, fantasy
[identity profile] ms-mmelissa.livejournal.com
I’m a total book snob, not only in regards to content, but in regard to book quality. This is the reason I have multiple (beautiful!) editions of Jane Eyre, and why I am such a sucker for Penguin and their amazing design aesthetic. All this to say that I was totally peeved when I bought the hardcover edition of Rudolf Anaya’s “Bless Me, Ultima” the novel that not only launched his career, but the entire genre of chicano literature. The book basically looks like someone took a cheap paperback cover and laminated it over two pieces of cardboard.  Hideous. I was prepared to hate the novel based on this alone, but once I started I found myself being drawn in by the voice of the uncertain narrator, the young Antonio Marez. Though the book was published in the early 70’s its set just after the Second World War in a small Spanish speaking community in New Mexico by the llano river.

Tony, the youngest child, lives there with his two older sisters and his parents. His mother and father, while extremely loving, also come from two different cultures. His Marez side (his father’s people) are cowboys and adventurers, while his Luna side (his mother’s people) are farmers. Each parent has clear ideas of which path they want their son to follow and what they would like him to do when he grows up.  The contrast causes a lot of conflict within Tony; he respects and loves each option and can’t bring himself to choose. This is where the titular Ultima comes in. Ultima is a curandera (sort of like a wise woman) who has nowhere else to go, and Tony’s family take her in out of respect for her and her magic. From the start Ultima and Tony strongly connect with Ultima demonstrating that what he thinks of as conflicts or not always so, and that even things that seem separate are strongly connected.

My one criticism of the book would have to be that Anaya does not push this theme of duality strongly enough. There are some hints in the book that Ultima may not be the sainted character she seems to be. It is left deliberately vague whether or not she passes a test proving that she is not a witch. Additionally one of her main conflicts is with a man who insists that she is a witch who is killing his daughters. From the perspective of Tony, our protagonist, it is the man who is in fact the evil one, and he and his daughters are witches that curse the whole village. I find it interesting though that the language Ultima uses to denounce the man and his daughters, is strikingly similar to the language he uses to denounce her. It is possible to imagine the flip side of the book, one in which Ultima really is evil and has cursed the daughters for no reason.

The complaint is somewhat moot though, because Anaya deliberately tries to keep things simple. The language for instance is fairly plain, but gives forth some amazingly beautiful descriptions of the llano river that Tony loves so much. And since the book is a work of magical realism the simplicity of language only emphasizes the fairy tale like quality of the novel.
[identity profile] seekingferret.livejournal.com
50) Can Smart People Believe in God? by Michael Guillen

I don't know why I'm drawn to these books. They're not written for me, and they offer me little. Guillen's answer to his title question, in any case, is yes. He really didn't need 160 pages to make his case. Here, let me distill his whole book into a simple proof:

Assume that smart people can't believe in God. Isaac Newton believed in God. Isaac Newton was smart. We arrive at a contradiction, so our assumption must be wrong and smart people can believe in God. QED.

In truth, there isn't much more to his book than that. Guillen is a person who, as a college physics professor, television science correspondent, and author of popular science books, has dedicated his life to making scientific knowledge more accessible to people who are disposed to be mistrustful of science. Here, even though he seems to be addressing atheists, it's clear from his churchy rhetoric and appeals to new-agey ideas like "Spiritual Quotient" that his real audience are American anti-science evangelicals, whom he is trying to persuade that science is Godly. Guillen's basic tactic is pitching the Catholic Church's long history of involvement in scientific advancement to an American Protestant audience that has traditionally distanced itself from such efforts. And if he can package his book as a rebuttal of Dawkins and Harris and the rest of our present generation of radical atheists (whom he terms Arrogant Atheists), so much the better for book sales.

In any case, it took me nearly 2 years (I started in March '09), but I have finally hit 50! Um... time to start again at 1, I suppose. :P Maybe this time I'll finish Beloved and The Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand and all those other books I started and didn't make it through in the past two years...
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[identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com
Title: Lost City Radio
Author: Daniel Alarcón
Number of Pages: 257 pages
My Rating: 3.5/5

Jacket Summary: For ten years, Norma has been the on-air voice of consolation and hope for the Indians in the mountains and the poor from the barrios--a people broken by war's violence. As the host of Lost City Radio, she reads the names of those who have disappeared--those whom the furiously expanding city has swallowed. Through their efforts lovers are reunited and the lost are found. But in the aftermath of the decadelong bloody civil conflict, her own life is about to forever change--thanks to teh arrival of a young boy from the jungle who provides a cryptic clue to the fate of Norma's vanished husband.

Review: I just didn't find this all that interesting. It seemed like he was always building things up like there would be some great reveal or intrigue and there just never was. It's not that I don't like books where everyone is ordinary and nothing surprising happens, but this made me feel like there was supposed to be something surprising and it was all just predictable and ordinary instead.
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[identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com
Title: 4teen
Author: Ishida Ira
Number of Pages: 329 pages
My Rating: 4/5

Jacket Summary: Tsukishima, an island in the middle of Tokyo Bay. Here we race through the streets on our bikes, faster than the wind. Naoto, Dai, Jun, and me, Tetsuro, four 9th graders. We each have our problems, but together we can go anywhere, maybe we can even fly...

Review: Like Ikebukuro West Gate Park, 4teen is a collection of short stories about young people set in Tokyo (though younger kids this time and a different area of Tokyo). No mysteries here, though, but basically if you like Ikebukuro West Gate Park, if you like Ishida Ira's writing style, this is more of the same.

Title: Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity
Author: José Esteban Muñoz
Number of Pages: 222 pages
My Rating: 2/5

Jacket Summary: The LGBT agenda has for too long been dominated by pragmatic issues like same-sex marriage and gays in the military. It has been stifled by this myopic focus on the present, which is short-sighted and assimilationist. In a startling repudiation of what the LGBT movement has held dear, Muñoz contends that queerness is instead a futurity-bound phenomenon, a "not yet here" that critically engages pragmatic presentism.

Review: I picked this up off the new-books shelf at the library because the title caught my eye, but was really disappointed in it. Since he is explicitly critiquing the current LGBT movement, I had hopes that his "queer" wasn't a synonym for gay men as it (and LGBT, really) so often is. Alas, while there are a handful of lesbians here and there and an aside about a trans friend, this book is totally about gay men, mainly pre-AIDS gay male culture and art.

I could have rolled with that if the book had otherwise been interesting, but the academic language made it difficult for me to read, plus the whole thing lacked cohesion and just felt more like a collection of essays about this art/period he liked rather than something that was building towards a whole. Also, mainly he talked about what he liked about queer movements in the past, and what I had picked up the book hoping for was a critique of the current LGBT movement. But other than saying he doesn't like it, he doesn't really go into it at all.
[identity profile] ms-mmelissa.livejournal.com
Dirty Girls on Top is Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez's sequel to her highly successful debut novel The Dirty Girls Social Club. Dirty Girls on Top reunites the sucias (dirty girls), Rebecca, Sara, Lauren, Usnavys, Elisabeth, and Cuicatl, six affluent friends in their thirties who bonded in college and continue to meet up once a year in order to reconnect.

Dirty Girls on Top picks up five years after the first novel which ended (in typical chick-lit fashion) with all of the women on either a personal or professional high. But five years later problems have started to crop up. The girls are either being cheated on or are the ones doing the cheating and the novel (which switches around with the POV depending on the story they are following) shows how they work to get back on top.

While this is fun, easy-to-read chick lit (or rather chica lit) it also deals with issues such as domestic abuse, racism, rape, eating disorders (of both the overeating and undereating kind), machismo culture, homosexuality, sex (or the lack of it) and a whole host of other issues. It's actually refreshing to read a light-hearted novel that still manages to incorporate the kind of issues that most people deal with on a daily basis rather than one that just talks about shopping and getting a boyfriend (although Dirty Girls on Top is full of that stuff too).

It is also refreshing to see Latinas being portrayed as being from a diverse set of ethnic backgrounds and not as a monolith. The women, while all Latina, represent several different cultures. They are black, white, brown, biracial, Jewish, Catholic, Puerto Rican, Cuban, straight, gay, married and single. I can't think of any other book that has so many main characters that come from completely different social and ethnic backgrounds.

The one problem with Valdes-Rodriguez's book though is that she tries to cram too much in. While the girls are self-declared "best-friends" their actions (and the plot) don't reflect this at all. All six of them have separate story lines and few of them see each other outside of their once-a-year reunion. I found myself developing favourite characters and was annoyed when the narrative would jump to a different city and a different woman's plot line. Some of the women had problems and story lines nearly identical to the ones they had in the previous book which made their story lines predictable and frustrating.

Still, with that being said I still would highly recommend this book with the recommendation of reading The Dirty Girls Social Club first.

Tags: a: Valdes-Rodriguez, Alisa, chica lit
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[identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com
Title: When I Was Puerto Rican
Author: Esmeralda Santiago
Number of Pages: 274 pages
My Rating: 5/5

This is Esmeralda Santiago's memoir of growing up in Puerto Rico and moving to New York at age thirteen. It ends with her about to start high school and I assume the second of her three memoirs picks up from there. I'm eager to read it. I'm sure it will be as well-written and engaging as this was.
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[identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com
Title: The House on Mango Street
Author: Sandra Cisneros
Number of Pages: 110 pages
My Rating: 4.5/5

This is a series of vignettes about Esperanza, a pre-teen girl growing up in a latino neighborhood in Chicago. It's very, very short, even shorter than the 110 pages it appears to be, because each story starts halfway down on the page, and often end with just one paragraph or a few lines on the next page, so there's a ton of empty space. The stories are all just little ordinary things, like reading somebody's memories rather than A Novel. I enjoyed it a lot.

Mooch from BookMooch.
[identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com
In a steampunk version of 1897 Texas, singing “tutors” for a giant computer called Cathedral (because it’s housed in one) try teach it self-awareness. The computer was built by Europeans on land belonging to the Latino/a “natives;” many years later, Latina tutor Glory and Sumner, the white son of one of the inventors, fall in love. Their romance becomes even more complicated than it would be anyway when Cathedral finally breaks through to sentience… and wants to incarnate in a human body. And then wishes become reality and it all gets very complicated.

The best elements of this comic are the atmosphere – Texas steampunk with people of color! – and the art, which is stylized, expressive, and often quite beautiful. The characters are more sketches than fully-realized personalities, and the story, particularly toward the end, devolves into a lot of confusing rushing around back and forth from the real world to virtual reality.

If my description sounds appealing to you, you should enjoy this. I did, despite its flaws.

Though Cathedral Child stands on its own, there is a sequel of sorts, though it sounds more like a loosely related story set in the same world: Clockwork Angels
[identity profile] whereweather.livejournal.com
 #30. Luba: The Book of Ofelia (Vol. 2 in the Luba trilogy; Vol. 21 in the Complete Love & Rockets)

2005 (material originally published 1998-2005), Fantagraphics Books

Warning: Long and obsessive plot details ahead!  This is a crazy long book -- 240 pages -- and incredibly dense, for a graphic novel.  Also, the storytelling modalities are highly refined and self-referential, full of interweaving, flashback and allusion; and also it's Part 2 of a three-part series-within-a-series.  So I take these reviews as an opportunity to parse the plot, to assure myself that I've actually followed what the hell is going on.

So!  This is the second part of Gilbert ("Beto") Hernandez's trilogy about the latest adventures of Luba, his protagonist, in America.  (For basics about Luba, you can see my earlier post about the previous book in this series.)

At this point in time, Luba and her children are in the United States, but her husband Khamo is stuck in immigration limbo.  Luba continues her quest to figure out what she must -- or can -- do in order to untangle his shady past, police record, and hazy criminal associations, so that she can bring him to join them.  (Like most of Luba's accomplishments, this is not really hindered -- and is perhaps made more impressive -- by that fact that, like some of the other main characters living in the United States, she still can't speak a word of English.)


Much of this section's narrative mechanics is fueled by the announcement that Ofelia, Luba's long-suffering older cousin, has decided to finally try being the writer she has always wanted to be.  This in-progress "book of Ofelia" gives, perhaps, the collection its title, although the phrasing also seems to imply (in its Biblical cadence) that she is instead the main subject of the book.  (Except that she isn't, really; she's not present throughout.  I keep thinking about the way that, in Spanish -- as I think I understand it, anyway -- this phrase, "el libro de Ofelia," does not make a distinction between the book *by* Ofelia and the book *about* her.  So this book, perhaps, is both.)


(On that note: one other thing I like is how much of the book's dialogue and internal thought-monologues are in Spanish.  The switches back and forth are frequent but consistent: the Latin American-born children tend to speak in fluent English to each other, but use Spanish with their parents, and to think in it when introspection is called for; the American-born children and adults think in English, although they frequently and fluently use Spanish with their relations.  Hernandez indicates the switches with the widely used comics convention of putting the "second-language" dialogue within brackets (and, in this book, some double-bracketing for other languages, like French).  When Hernandez' stories were set entirely in the Central American village from which many of the characters hail, he used to just put a note at the bottom of the first page that everything was in Spanish unless otherwise indicated -- a convention that Jaime has also sometimes used, e.g. in stories set among recent immigrants and jornalero workers -- but now that they've migrated to America, there's a lot more use of both tongues.)


So.  What's happening in the Book of Ofelia?



Obsessive plot details! Avoid if you fear spoilers! )


[Tags I'd like to add: a: hernandez gilbert, i: hernandez gilbert, california, children [*not* "children's"], magic realism, disability, meta-literature]

[identity profile] whereweather.livejournal.com
#27. The Education of Hopey Glass (The Complete Love & Rockets, Vol. 24), Jaime Hernandez

2008 (material originally published 2005-'08), Fantagraphics Books


Okay, here I go about Love & Rockets again.  I feel a little dumb writing in so much detail about each new volume of the series I devour (being on a ten-year catch-up binge as I am), since I'm not sure anyone else is interested.  But at the same time, it's hard for me to resist it.  Half of the books -- the ones by Jaime Hernandez, about his post-punk ambisexual working-class Latina chicks in L.A. -- I've been following for so many years and love so much that I can't help gushing on and on.  And the ones by Gilbert Hernandez, about his ever-more-convoluted Lynchian psychosexual post-magic-realism Mexican American and Central American émigrés in L.A. -- the ones who all seem to sport big breasts, huge butts, impressive penis sizes, and an increasingly complicated array of fetishes... well, those are so involuted that I can't really follow the story line unless I break it all down for myself.


So here we have  Volume 24, all about Maggie's best friend and one-time lover Hopey Glass.  The overarching narrativethrust comes from the fact that Hopey has a new job.  It's a real job, which is really strange for her!  As long as we've known her, Hopey was living either with or on other people; or playing bass with a band; or off a small inheritance; or, more recently, bartending and working odd jobs.  But apparently she recently took up temping, and now she has -- of all things -- studied for, taken, and passed an exam to become certified as a teaching assistant in the state of California.  It's a new school year now, and her job is about to begin.

What this volume's all about... )
[identity profile] whereweather.livejournal.com
#26. Luba in America (Vol. 1 of the Luba Trilogy), by Gilbert Hernandez
2001 (material originally published 1998-2000), Fantagraphics Books

Ha!  Man, I just never stop referencing myself, do I?  (Well, well: the internet wouldn't be as much fun if it weren't so easy to be intertextual.)

This is the third Love & Rockets book I'm reviewing, since I am indulging in a catch-up binge on my favorite comics series after years of only-sporadic reading.  The first two I reviewed were by Jaime Hernandez, the half of the Hernandez brothers whose work I consistently adore. Luba in America, by contrast, is by Gilbert Hernandez, whose stories, characters, style and subjects are quite different.  In an earlier post I discussed my feelings about Gilbert's work, including and especially my ambivalence about his increasingly sexual and sexualizing vision of his female characters' lives.  

But, heh, Gilbert was also a bold, compassionate and masterful storyteller at one time, and perhaps is still.  If his "weird id display" (as a previous commenter called it) doesn't put you off, there is still a lot of story to admire.  So here I am: taking a careful breath, and plunging into the now-complete "Luba trilogy" to see what Gilbert has recently been up to.

Venga conmigo! )
[identity profile] whereweather.livejournal.com
#25. This Bridge Called My Back, ed. Cherríe Moraga & Gloria Anzaldúa
1981/'83, Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press

This is another book that is so full of... ideas and thinking and newness, and that has so many visions and so much emotion in it, and that contains both so much I can identify with and so much that seems deeply foreign -- I don't mean only the experiences and attitudes of the women who wrote it, but also, which is harder for me to assimilate, the lens through which they view the world: the moment of history, cultural and political, in which thy formulated these ideas and these manifestoes -- that I feel overwhelmed when I try to think about posting a review of it.

But I also feel kind of like a coward for backing out of reviewing it. What to do? I think I will let it simmer for a while. I may also read the much more recent companion book to it (this bridge we call home, used, I see, as an icon for this group ;), and see if that helps me understand, and bridge the thirty years of historical difference between these women and me.

[tags I would add if I could: assimilation, sociology, spirituality [or: religion/spirituality], puerto rican, a: morales rosario, a: rushin donna kate, a: wong nellie, a: lee mary hope, a: littlebear naomi, a: lim genny, a: yamada mitsuye, a: valerio anita, a: cameron barbara, a: levins morales anita, a: carillo jo, a: daniels gabrielle, a: moschkovich judit, a: davenport doris, a: gossett hattie, a: smith barbara, a: smith beverly, a: clarke cheryl, a: noda barbara, a: woo merle, a: quintanales mirtha, a: anzaldua gloria, a: alarcon norma, a: combahee river collective, a: canaan andrea, a: parker pat] 

(Also, apropos of nothing: Whoo! Halfway through! This book feels like an appropriate one for that milestone.)


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