Friday, July 11, 2014

Books Acquired: Saga Vols. 2 & 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Volumes Two & Three
Brian K. Vaughan / Fiona Staples
Image Comics
Published July 2, 2014 / March 25, 2014

I never did a post about acquiring the first volume of the amazing graphic novel Saga, but these showed up on Wednesday and I wanted to be sure that I posted about it.

See, I succumbed to the internet hype and purchased Saga: Volume One on a whim. When it arrived I read it slowly and treated it like it was a regular novel. I loved every page, every panel, every weird bit and piece of it. After I turned the last page, I called out: "BRING ME THE INTERNET! I MUST READ MORE SAGA!"

And now I have them and I'm super excited about it.

Graphic novels aren't something I've read much of in the past. There was this once, but for the most part, I'm new to all of this.

If you're curious for more about Saga, check out this io9 post on 10 Reasons You Should Be Reading Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Books Acquired: High as the Horses' Bridles by Scott Cheshire

High as the Horses' Bridles
Scott Cheshire
Henry Holt and Co.
Published July 8th, 2014

I got this in a LibraryThing giveaway and I'm really excited to read it!

from the publisher:
An urgent, electric debut novel about inheritance, belief, and a father and son divided by a dangerous prophecy

It’s 1980 at a crowded amphitheater in Queens, New York and a nervous Josiah Laudermilk, age 12, is about to step to the stage while thousands of believers wait to hear him, the boy preaching prodigy, pour forth. Suddenly, as if a switch had been flipped, Josiah’s nerves shake away and his words come rushing out, his whole body fills to the brim with the certainty of a strange apocalyptic vision. But is it true prophecy or just a young believer’s imagination running wild? Decades later when Josiah (now Josie) is grown and has long since left the church, he returns to Queens to care for his father who, day by day, is losing his grip on reality. Barreling through the old neighborhood, memories of the past—of his childhood friend Issy, of his first love, of the mother he has yet to properly mourn—overwhelm him at every turn. When he arrives at his family’s old house, he’s completely unprepared for what he finds. How far back must one man journey to heal a broken bond between father and son?

In rhapsodic language steeped in the oral tradition of American evangelism, Scott Cheshire brings us under his spell. Remarkable in scale—moving from 1980 Queens, to sunny present-day California, to a tent revival in nineteenth century rural Kentucky—and shot-through with the power and danger of belief and the love that binds generations, High as the Horses’ Bridles is a bold, heartbreaking debut from a big new American voice.

See also this great interview with Scott Cheshire at Electric Lit 
And also this piece written by Cheshire for Harper's entitled "God Lives On Lemon Street"
Oh, and you wanted an excerpt from High as the Horses' Bridles?  Well then head over to Killing the Buddah.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Books Acquired: Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois

Jennifer duBois
Random House Trade Paperbacks
Published May 20th, 2014

from the publisher:

When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is enchanted by everything she encounters: the colorful buildings, the street food, the handsome, elusive man next to her. Her studious roommate Katy is a bit of a bore, but Lily didn't come to Argentina to hang out with other Americans. Weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered in their shared home, and Lily is the prime suspect. As the case takes shape - revealing deceptions, secrets, and suspicious DNA - Lily appears alternately sinister and guileless through the eyes of those around her: the media, her family, the man who loves her and the man who seeks her conviction. But who is Lily Hayes? It depends on who's asking. Full of psychological suspense and rare moral nuance, Cartwheel investigates how we decide what to see - and to believe - in one another and ourselves.

Monday, June 02, 2014

The Really Important Kind of Freedom

This arrived today from Em Dash Paper Co. and I love it. The quote from David Foster Wallace's This is Water. I love it and I can't wait to display it somewhere.

"The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day."

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris Abani

The Secret History of Las Vegas
Chris Abani
336 pages
Penguin Books
Published January 7, 2014

I just got back from Las Vegas. No kidding. And I meant to write this review from that city because it would be fitting and somehow right, but things don't go as planned in Las Vegas and I didn't write this review. So now I am home and here we are.

The Secret History of Las Vegas is a lyrical, beautiful novel about monsters, the weight of history, and looking for meaning in an empty place.

How do I even begin to describe what this book is about? I've read maybe twenty plot summaries and none really capture what awaits the reader between the covers. We can start with bodies being dumped near the shores of Lake Mead and a pair of conjoined twins named Fire and Water. There's the detective named Salazar and the doctor named Sunil. Throw in the deliberate creation of psychopaths, the horrors of apartheid, two love triangles, a revenge story, and the human fall-out from nuclear testing in the Nevada desert.

I've been turning this book over in my head for a few weeks. When I read something I really love, it's as if I've been poked in the happy part of my brain and I've been flooded with the joy of new discovery. It usually takes me a little while to emerge from the after-glow and figure out what the author was trying to tell me. A good story is always fun, but what's the message?

I'm not sure I've completely figured out The Secret History of Las Vegas, but I've had some insights: The first being that this is much more of a Gothic horror than a mystery. While there are certainly elements of mystery, the novel hits most of the characteristics of Gothic horror, including the concept of the setting acting as a character in the novel. Additionally, the conjoined twins, Fire and Water, are especially interesting because they're not only fascinating as characters, but they also act as a physical manifestation of each character's dark truths. To elaborate much further would spoil the plot, but I'm tempted to re-read the book with this idea in mind.

Apart from the scenes with Fire and Water, my favorite parts of The Secret History of Las Vegas were the scenes from Sunil's youth in apartheid-era South Africa. I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that I wasn't too familiar with the history of apartheid before I read Abani's novel, but the story of White Alice and the horrors of Vlakplaas led me to more reading and research on the history of apartheid in South Africa. It's always a good thing when a book turns you on to history and expands your experience.

My very favorite books are the ones that take a while to unpack and slowly reveal their secrets and The Secret History of Las Vegas is definitely one of those books. Highly recommended.