Sugar Skull by Charles Burns

Sugar Skull, Part 3 of Charles Burns' trilogy, is a comedown of sorts. Had to read all three parts again, by the way, as memory fails.

While both X'ed Out and The Hive were kinda hallucinogenic and mesmerizing in a typical sick and dirty way Burns is known for, Sugar Skull is much more open and sad. It has a NIN Hurt-like halo around it.

With no new nasty creatures (well, not entirely true), this time pieces of the puzzle mostly include real people, their fears and pains, poorly drawn plans and hastily made decisions.

The dream ends, and it ends, and it ends.

Still, to be fair to myself – it took Burns a while to make this book – and this trilogy is indeed a great piece of comic literature. Not sure whether it is a success commercially, but personally, I was waiting for the book to come out – as I will for next one.

Here's a quick interview with Burns from The New Yorker, where he speaks on Herge as his inspiration – and it gives tons of page scans as well. And damn, I need to make sure I read all the Tintin books one day!

 

 

 


Showa 1926-1939: A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki

Volume 1 of Mizuki’s fast forwarding epic about both Japan’s history and his own childhood is entertaining. For a reader lacking even basic information on Japan’s history, it shows the imperialist, aggressive and militarist Japan, guided by false high ideas and ideals. I guess I never knew they had that many attempted coups in just a few years.

What I am certain of – I think Mizuki is willing to diminish or somehow not focus too much on some of the crimes of his people in those years leading to the big war – the rape of Nanjing, for instance, deserved just a page, and that page was not graphic enough for my taste.

His childhood stories, though, are much more easy-going and fun. Oh well. Let’s see what volume 2 brings.


The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins by Irvine Welsh

As much as I like all of Irvine Welsh's prolific literary work of the past two decades, it pains me to admit that this is probably his weakest novel.

No, it's still a fun read, as it has the traditional Welsh ingredients in the mix – narrated in the first person by multiple characters, who are full of cynicism, irony and spite. Welsh likes people who defecate in words – and not a single soul spared, oh no.

Plus, given my 4-hour body diet affections, all that get-the-lardass-byatch-to-lose-weight-while-punching-calories-in-the-iPhone psyche stroke a chord with me.

But all of that is not why it's his weakest. The story – the real welshian story, with all its typical shocking brutality, anger and vengeance – it just starts too late. Which, in contrast with a true no holds barred Korean action movie styled chapter one, is a pity. I guess not enough cheap thrills for me, huh.

Still, I wouldn't call it a miss – and I still will avidly consume every piece of Leith or Miami trash that Welsh may throw at me in the future, and chew on it with determination and glee. May strike you as odd, but he is probably the only writer on this sad lonely planet whose every book was devoured by yours truly. I mean, every. Some come close to that – i.e. I read tons of Miller's and Mamet's plays, or Limonov's self praising novels, or Mendoza's barcelonese stories, both serious and funny – but definitely I missed quite a few. Jonathan Littell is in the same league, with every book as well (or so I think at least), but he has written much less. Well, I guess I got too hooked on Welsh's eurotrash stories at high school. Go figure.

 


The Anarchist by David Mamet

Somehow, it's been a while since I last read a new Mamet's play. And it's always been a treat, with very few exceptions.

This time, the book caught me a bit off guard. Set up entirely as a dialogue between two women, one a prisoner, and the another, a warden of sorts, it was a bit difficult to plow through it at the beginning.

A third or so in, this Raskolnikov-like story caught up with me, and I did enjoy it. Not Oleanna, but still, quite nice. Sad no Mamet available in Moscow theaters – and I'm not sure he translates well.

 


Logicomix. An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos H. Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna

An extremely difficult comic book, probably the most difficult graphic novel I've read so far. It couldn't have been otherwise, as it is a partly fictitionalized story of Bertrand Russell's life, work and his path in the field of modern philosophy and mathematics.

To a dumb person like me, going through logical paradoxes and mathematical concepts was tiresome and ultra calorie burning even via this “easy” medium of a graphic novel – so I dread the very thought of trying to read Russell's or his fellow Wittgenstein's stuff in full.

Still, I suggest to all comic book lovers, as well as those who never read comic books, to try it. It's something of a kind, a history of modern philosophy in the first half of the XX-th century, presented in witty colored pictures. Not Tintin's adventures, but still.


All You Need is Kill aka Edge of Tomorrow by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

Coincedences happen. Silly enough – watched the movie on Friday – and on this very Saturday morning stumbled upon the original book translated into English. Hm, must be a sign.

By the look and feel of the movie, I sensed it would have the Heinlein's Troopers touch to it – and the book, even more so.

Now, with less than 200 pages and a rabid pace, I can't but realize it's much more Verhoeven's.

Anyways, that bug queen sci-fi was dear to my mind, and I ate the book in a blink of an eye. Ay, yummy. Feels like I'm twelve again. Hope my son catches that affection a few years down the road.

 


Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh

Her name was not Adèle, her name was Clementine. Julie Maroh’s original book cuts like a knife, same shapness and quality as Kechiche’s award winning 3-hour masterpiece. Makes your heart beat and ache.

If you’re not homophobic, if you didn’t watch the flick only for the very long scene and nothing else, well, you may wanna give it a shot.

It’s no less touching, it’s no less beautiful – though, granted, it’s a notch more melodramatic at the end (as the film ends quite differently) – but it’s a master’s work nonetheless, beautiful and complete.

When I read that, I thought of Pliura and his only book of poems. It seems that gay people, probably due to harassment and bullying, came up with a few very touching literature and movie gems in the past several decades, Romeo and Juliette of the 21st century kinda thing.

I can’t recommend it though, as it probably breaks Russia’s new homophobic laws that prohibit promotion of anything gay related, good god forbid, no no no, don’t read it and don’t buy this book – but why listen to me, you should ask yourselves, if you can make up your mind on your own.

PS: … and my good companions to this jewel were Cohiba Siglo I and a bottle of Barolo 2008. These two I can easily recommend.

 


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