Saturday, January 12, 2013

Why I Love/Hate Book Reviews

Although I write reviews from time to time, I don't enjoy reading them. This may seem like an odd confession, considering that my blog professes to be about books. But unless I'm consulting a critical review for information about a not-for-pleasure book, I tend to avoid them. Book reviews, especially ones written from a more personal reader's perspective, tell too much. Even with spoiler alerts, they usually go way beyond a basic plot synopsis.

You might be thinking that an extensive discussion of a book is kind of the point of a review. But after I read one, I feel like I've practically read the book. I've learned the key elements of plot, setting, and characters. But worst of all, I've absorbed the reviewer's experience. The anticipation of reading the actual book has evaporated.

But I love talking about books. I love getting recommendations and giving them. So instead of exhaustively reviewing amazing books, I'm just going to virtually hold them out to you, saying, "Oh my god this was awesome read it now" (All in one unpunctuated breath). Think of me as your friend in the computer.

Megan Abbott's "Dare Me" is about the intensity of teenage female friendships and competitive cheerleading. If you're making a face about the cheerleading part, take a little leap of faith and check it out. It's one of the most real books about being a teenage girl I've ever read. It kept me up all night, which is the highest praise I can give.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, New Project

Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed themselves way too much and got to spend today relaxing. This is a resolution free space, but I do want to share something new that I'll be doing this year. Artist Patrick Artazu and I are collaborating on a series of graphic short stories. It's strange, challenging and fun for a writer like me who can't draw a straight line to try to marry words and images. Collaboration carries the added bonus of making writing a little less solitary. 

Watch this space in the upcoming weeks for our first graphic story, "Wet Spot." At left is a little teaser panel from the story featuring Anya, an au pair whose seduction by her employer has bizarre and unexpected consequences.

Tangentially related, I recently bought my first comic book as an adult. When I was very young, I loved listening to stories of Wonder Woman on my Fisher Price tape recorder. As a kid, I was very into "Betty & Veronica" (Team Veronica!), but my comic/graphic novel reading experience as an adult has been more "literary." Yes, this is a slippery descriptor that can evoke endless debate, but no one can argue that "Persepolis" is a very different beast than the works of DC and Marvel. 

In an effort to learn all things comic, I've been listening to the 3 Chicks podcasts. Their motto is "comics should be good," and they raved about "Ghost." I was sold. But when I read volume one, I was surprised by the huge gap in the quality of the art and the quality of the writing. I won't be buying any more of the "Ghost" series, since clunky, smug narrative voices make me want to tear my hair out.  But the art is so purty. Anyone have a recommendation for a comic that has art as good as Phil Noto's, with writing to match?