Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Barely Making a Dent: March 2017 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.

Writing about books and working in publishing both make it far too easy—you might say even dangerously easy—to acquire more books than I can read at any given time. That's the reason for the name of this recurring series.

Guess what? It's happened again: I've recently received several review copies and became the proud owner of a mammoth set of books that I've wanted for awhile now. The shelves are filling up fast.

Recently acquired

Love and Rockets, by Los Bros Hernandez. My editor at Sequart has been unloading some of his collection, so I was able to snag these for a song. This is quite a windfall: five thick paperback collections and the Fantagraphics reprint of the very first issue of the series.

I'm most excited to read Jaime Hernandez's "Locas" trilogy of books, all of which I know own. I've always gravitated towards Jaime's work, due to both his art style and weird sci-fi slice of life stories. One of the trades in this set is the Love and Rockets Companion, which Fantagraphics put out a few years back to celebrate the series' thirtieth anniversary. It's packed tight with creator interviews that span three decades.

Growing up, Love and Rockets didn't really hit my radar until college. Already at that point it seemed to have a vast and labyrinth back catalog, which scared me off from taking the plunge. I sampled some here and there, loving what I did read. Still, where do I jump in, I wondered? Now that decision is easy.

This series has always been one of, if not the most, beloved indie comic books of all time, both by critics and fans. It's practically a fact. There isn't enough hyperbole to describe how important Love and Rockets is to the medium. It's a true auteur work in an industry that doesn't always encourage such endeavors. I'm over the moon to finally have such a surfeit of it for my shelves.

I also recently received a batch of review copies of new books from the University Press of Mississippi, two on underrated and misunderstood filmmakers (Brian De Palma and Paul Verhoeven) and one on author Michael Chabon. I've got a piece on Verhoeven scheduled to run soon at Sequart, where I discuss the book the interviews in it. And speaking of Chabon...

Recently read

Moonglow, by Michael Chabon. This is another winner from one of our very best contemporary writers. Obviously I have more to say about it and hope to at some point, here or elsewhere.

Pleasure and Pain, by Chrissy Amphlett. Honest, uncompromising, and above all entertaining. Those adjectives not only describe Divnyls' late singer Chrissy Amphlett, they also apply to her autobiography. Learning that the pre-Divinyls teenage busker Amphlett spent several months detained in a Spanish prison (for singing on the streets!) was at first shocking, but also seems wholly appropriate for a tough cookie who claims to never apologize (an exaggeration, clearly). Certainly it suffers from the same sorts of issues that hamper all celebrity bios—namely some portions of a performers career simply aren't as interesting as others. Thankfully she spends most of her time on hers and the band's best years and work, highlighting some of what went into her songwriting and her epic live performances. As happens when I listen to Amphlett's music, reading the book brought on a wave of sadness over her passing at only 53 years young from breast cancer.

Jack Kirby's O.M.A.C.: One More Army Corps is as ridiculously absurd and over the top as the name implies. It's not usually considered one of Kirby's major works, but it's terrific fun, filled with the King's trademark explosive and energetic art.

Currently Reading

1984, by George Orwell. I just started this one, which a reread of a book I last read in high school. Orwellian times call for Orwellian rereads, apparently.

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