Berlin by Jason Lutes

A book that took three installments and 23 years to complete. I think I stumbled on Book One: City of Stones back in 2007 or so, and then got hold Book Two: City of Smoke immediately thereafter, in 2008 when it was out, and had been patiently waiting for the finale, Book Three: City of Light which finally came out this September. All three under one hardcover and read in one go, brilliant.

Deep and sincere, it’s a multi-layered interconnected tale of a big group of people, rich and poor, politically motivated and careless, all residents in the city of Berlin during the Weimar Republic in 1928-1933, the Jazz era, a short intermission for peace, with fascism, intolerance and hatred slowly and masterfully creeping in.

The band is still playing – yet children get hurt, mothers are shot, families break down and turn on each other, free love is persecuted, a tall blond man is marching with a black band on his arm and shiny suspenders in full sight, and then a small man, he with ridiculously trimmed mini-mustache is making a couple of brief cameo appearances here.

Fills your heart with sadness, with loss of liberty, youth and innocence, and with little hope. Lives are wasted, and the city, burnt and captured, cut in two pieces with a butcher’s knife and then sewn back together, the city still stands. Uh-huh. Well, could I expected anything else?

Picture: Carl von Ossietzky, the recipient of the 1935 Nobel Peace Prize

Blankets by Craig Thompson

An honest and somewhat clumsy autobiographical graphic novel by Craig Thompson, his first major success, a thick 9-part book about growing up in snowy rural Minnesota, about young boy’s religious acceptance, god fearing reverence, affection, love, and subsequent denial of god, and on finally moving on.

While Blankets is a critically acclaimed masterpiece of modern comic book storytelling, I remain a much bigger fan of Thompson’s next story called Habibi, a much harsher tale of love, poverty, almost medieval violence and bigotry. To me, Blankets vs Habibi is a good US indie flick vs a major groundbreaking Scorsese biopic.


Dead Men’s Trousers by Irvine Welsh

Almost sixty now, Irvine Welsh still rocks my world and gets me glued to the pages like he used to 25 years back or so, even now, with yet another book on Rents, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie. It’s officially the fifth in the series, after Trainspotting, Porno, Skagboys and Begbie’s very own The Blade Artist, but really like the twelfth, if you count the rest of his Edinburgh novels like Glue, Filth, A Decent Ride and the rest.

Traveling between Miami and Scotland, Welsh carefully places his characters on the same routine that he undergoes himself, red-eye flights back and forth, a huge divide between sunny and well fed Florida and a drizzling damp and bevvied up brawly Leith.

Everyone’s now older, somewhat tired and weary, yet Hibs, ching, lassies, parties, and chapter after chapter of this unique Welsh-invented brute Scottish language you first learn, get accustomed to, and only later appreciate. The part on Scottish Cup final of 2016 made me open up YouTube and watch Sunshine on Leith sung by the stadium after a major mash up in the pitch.

I dream that one day I re-read most of Welsh’s books in a TV-show-like binge kinda way, as I am tired of not remembering certain parts of previous books that the old master carefully cross-refs here – without it I’m often clueless, as my memory fails.


От нуля к единице Питера Тиля и Блейка Мастерса

Довольно самоуверенная книга от одного из создателей PayPal, гуру из долины Питера Тиля. Disruption, innovation, creation of new and unique products, market monopolization, а также безраздельная вера в себя и полное неприятие судьбы и успеха – вот основные постулаты этой апологетики нового предпринимательства.

Все так, но все же – отрицание позитивного фактора судьбы и удачи, вера, что я упорно работал, видел цель, и поэтому это все – это не удача, а условная награда – ну, по мне так выглядит как 100% selection bias, мысли счастливчиков о счастье, без оглядки на миллионы других, купивших проигравший билет. Конечно, что спорить, надо верить в себя и рисковать, без этого нет успеха – но без удачи не будет его скорее всего.

Ну, с другой стороны, что ещё могут говорить грустные банкиры и консультанты, впитавшие с молоком матери дух неопределённости, защиты от риска, борьбы за короткий доллар. Ну а то!


Опус Сатоси Кона

Неплохая мета-манга, матрешка от создателя аниме Паприка Сатоси Кона, a nesting doll inside a nesting doll inside a nesting doll. Здесь нет, конечно, той глубины и накала повествования, как у классиков жанра типа Осаму Тезука – но, в целом, весьма и весьма ничего.

Присмотрюсь к другим книгам издательства Alt-Graph, которое взвалило на себе нерентабельное бремя печатать мангу. Хм


Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch

Hey, if there’s only one book you can afford to read on the wine business, wine trade, wine making, wine traditions, commercial versus natural wines, and some of the greatest vintners on this earth, read Kermit Lynch’s 30-year-old travelogue on selecting his French wine portfolio.

First published in 1988, this is a story of candor, love of the vine, and decades-long incessant battle for the true and sincere fermented juice that brings together the sense of the place it was born in and the passion that old rustic village men put into it on their slopes and in their damp cellars.

Lynch, a renown US wine importer, discusses his views on the natural wines well before Marcel Lapierre and his buddies made it into a huge trend. He meets and talks to people like Aubert de Villaine, Henri Jayer, Hubert de Montille, François Raveneau, Aimé Guibert and the Peyraud family of Domaine Tempier. Hell, he even talks to Jules Chauvet before Jules Chauvet changed the mentality of the ravaged Beaujolais region and sowed the seeds of the natural wine movement.

He praises wines of elegance, finesse, nuance, balance, light alcohol, no filtration, low or no sulfur at all, over soul-less broad-shouldered bold oaky wines of 15% and above still in favor with the world press. Yet, in his epilogue to the 25th anniversary edition, published in 2013, he spares no harsh words towards badly made ultra purist natural wines, as you cannot sell defects for effects just for the sake of it being natural and raw.

A true visionary before his time.


Naked Wine: Letting grapes do what comes naturally by Alice Feiring

Both energetic and erratic story by a prominent New York natural wine freak / journalist Alice Feiring was a quick read.

Flipping between her own winemaking experience with Sagrantino in Napa (good lord!), the story and ideology behind natural wines and key figures in the movement, and her own incessant tours of the Old World vignerons most of the folks probably never heard of, it’s a frank, non-linear story of passion, a labyrinth of cul-de-sac’s, and an ode to stomping and adding no sulfur.

Santé!