Saturday, November 27, 2010

I passed out on a park bench

I am a big fan of Julia Wertz. She won me over with The Fart Party volumes one and two and delighted me with I Saw You, an anthology of comics based on craigslist missed connections. So when I happened upon Drinking at the Movies at B&N, I grabbed it and didn't let go.

Wertz's website is updated often, but most of the comics included are ones I have never seen. They capture the uncertainty of living in your twenties and having a lack of real goals and ambitions and insurance. I find this lady totally relateable, probably because she seems to love drinking in the bathtub as much as I do.

Check out and check this lady out.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Real or not real?

Having read and loved The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, I had to pick up Mockingjay. After waiting on the library wait list, I finally got my copy and tore through it. Collins great skill is her ability to end a chapter while leaving me dying to know what happens next, which led to a great deal of me staying up well past my bed time to finish the book. 

"If we burn you burn with us."

If you haven't read the other two books, I highly suggest you do so. They create a distopian world where the US has been destroyed and rebuilt as districts, each serving the Capital in come capacity. Katniss Everdeen is from District 12 and is a participant of the Hunger Games. These are fights to the death among two children from each district. Katniss sparks the flame of revolution, albeit involuntarily, and in Mockingjay, she is the figure-head for the rebellion.

Those who have not read these book beware of spoilers.

Katniss gets involved in the politics of District 13, which is eerily similar to the Capital. She is subject to TV spots and promotional shots and kept in the dark about what exactly she is standing for. Peeta is still captured in the Capital and she is desperate to save him in order to reconcile her feelings between him and Gale. She is as much a captive in District 13 as she was in the Capital and sees the hidden torture methods that are used.

"I'm sick of people lying to me for my own good. Because really its mostly for their own good."

Finally Katniss is forced to go into the heart of the Capital on her quest to kill President Snow. She and her companions face horrible threats similar to those in the Hunger Games and frankly many of the characters die violent deaths that are still freaking me out.

Some of the imagery in this book is truly frightening. To picture tons of children being bombed and then set on fire is horrific. The lizard-creatures eating people are also disgusting. However, I liked how Collins took some of the things we read in the first book and twisted them. Katniss was the girl on fire. In this book she is that literally. Her whole mission was to save the life of her sister, Primrose, so it was sadly eloquent that Primrose dies at the end. 

"We're fickle, stupid being with poor memories and a great gift for self destruction."

The last chapter, much like J.K. Rowlings epilogue, left me feeling a little underwhelmed. I wanted a more complete ending. I felt that the relationship between Peeta and Katniss was rushed over and I wanted more. 

Read these books. Prepare for frightening dreams and read them. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

my soul is made of raw meat

Zadie Smith is one of those authors whose books I look at in every book store and now and then buy one to put on my shelf without ever having read any of her books. I did read a short story of hers once in class, "You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town." And what I vaguely remember of it was good.

On Beauty is not what I expected it to be at all. I am not really sure what I expected it to be, maybe something more like Toni Morrison, but this is not the same at all. Smith writes about an academic white man, Howard, who is married to a large black woman, Kiki. They have a family and they all have issues that are being dealt with. They have three children, all with completely different mindsets on the world around them. Their oldest son Jerome is away interning with Howard's academic nemesis, Kipps, and he falls in love with his daughter. But she has plans of her own and suddenly the whole Kipps family is back in Howard's hometown, working at the same university.

"Like many academics, Howard was innocent of the world. He could identify thirty different ideological trends in the social sciences, but he did not really know what a software engineer was."

The story is constantly shifting, jumping ahead in time and changing perspective when you think you know what is going to happen. Howard is struggling to keep his marriage together despite the fact that he had an affair and then lied horribly about it. I found it very interesting to see how Kiki dealt with all of this, interesting and depressing. 

"A five-year gap between siblings is like a garden that needs constant attention. Even three month apart allows the weeds to grow up between you."
All in all, I found this book pretty depressing. I am not sure what the reader is meant to feel at the ending. I did not think much of Howard at all and frankly most of the other characters seemed very stuck in one mindset for most of the book. Everyone acts how I predicted they would. 

It did made me long for college in a very strong way. Smith does a great job of creating a college that has all of it's pieces running and captures the feel of academia. I just would have liked something more plot-wise. I think that my biggest complaint was that (almost) every time she builds up to a conflict, a scene where shit is going to hit the fan, we are let down. Time is skipped and the characters are already on to another thing while I am still trying to figure out how the hell things happened.

Despite my feelings about this book, I think I would still read her other works. I have White Teeth and really want to read it; hopefully I have a better review for that one.