Friday, December 16, 2016

Barely Making a Dent: More December 2016 Books

In which our narrator tries to read his way through the endless stacks of books that are slowly overtaking both his bookshelves and his life.

Currently reading

I'm still reading China Mieville's Kraken, and slowly I might add. It's a lot of fun, filled with as much crazy sci-fi/fantasy fun as Mieville can pack into each page. But its that density of information and jargon that's slowing me down. Plus it's December and we're rushing towards the holidays so I'm busier. Finding time to read before I pass out each night is tough right now.

Recently read

I did polish off Ed Brubaker's most recent (and possibly final?) trade paperback collecting the last five issues of his terrific 1970s spy/thriller series Velvet. This one's been a personal favorite of mine for the last year or two and I'm sad to see it end. But is it actually ending? I suppose I could Google to find out but I think it might just be going on hiatus until Brubaker has time to return to it. So the story wraps up, for the most part, but certainly leaves us wanting more. Brubaker has become a modern master of crime and noir fiction, and with Velvet Templeton he's given us one of the most kick-ass, competent, intelligent, sexy, and fun female characters in fiction over the last few years. That she's a woman in her forties only makes her more unique in our current popular culture, where woman over forty aren't usually the stars of books or films or television series. They're usually only given the mom roles.
Stacy London: stylist extraordinaire. Or is she actually...

...super-spy Velvet Templeton? You decide.
I have to mention the art, too. Brubaker's frequent collaborator Steve Epting turns in the best work I've seen from him yet. He's one of the few artists working in comics who understands that a photo-realistic style doesn't have to equal stiff and dull. There's a dynamism to his work, even when Velvet's just standing still lighting a cigarette (and that happens often because she smokes like a chimney in this book). Like a lot of books Image publishes, Velvet seems like a no-brainer for television adaptation. I'm not sure if style guru Stacy London can act, but she could certainly pull of the 1970s fashion. I mean, she has to be the inspiration for Epting's character design, right? Or maybe I've watched far too many episodes of What Not to Wear.

Recently and not-so-recently acquired

Michael Chabon's 1999 short-story collection Werewolves in Their Youth has long been a hole in my personal Chabon collection. Maybe the only hole. The only other book of his I don't own at this point is Gentlemen of the Road, but I did read that one years ago. Still, I need to get a copy for the shelf, and also reread it. Completist tendencies are real, people. Werewolves was released the year before I discovered Chabon through The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, but it didn't hit my radar for a few more years. I picked up a copy this week and might do a Chabon binge soon with his new novel Moonglow followed by Werewolves. I've always found his short fiction and essays just as insightful and entertaining as his novels, so I have no doubt I'll eat this one up too.
The lunatic acid-trip that is Fletcher Hanks' Golden Age comics.
Turn Loose Our Death Rays and Kill Them All! Have you ever seen a title more magnificent than that? I doubt you have. This is a mammoth book collecting all of eccentric cartoonist Fletcher Hanks' work in comic books from 1939–1941. I'm tearing through my PDF review copy (thanks, Fantagraphics!) and it's some seriously weird fiction. I'll be reviewing it for Sequart soon.

I've had Colson Whitehead's National Book Award for Fiction winning The Underground Railroad in my reading pile for months now but haven't found the time for it. I've read so much praise for it that I really want to devote time to it when I'm not as distracted (so, that would be never, right?). Maybe I'll tackle it after my Chabon-athon.

As noted in a previous post here, Stephen King's outrageously long door-stopper of a book It is also in my pile. The book is so big I think I can only read it at home. To transport it around in my messenger bag would likely cause me some serious bodily harm. I can't wait to read it but I have no idea when I will start reading it.

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