3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man by Matt Kindt

Matt Kindt’s short and very poetic story of a modern life Gulliver, a fictitious gentle ever-growing giant lost in the post-war 50s, 60s and the 70s in the US is very nostalgic, melancholic and even somewhat sad. A tale of three women – his single mother, widow of a WWII vet, his wife, shrinking and diminishing by the day, locked in a tower of glass and steel, and his daughter who grew fatherless – all of whom eventually lost him, gave up on his deformity – or rather, they were finding ways of coping with it, which included, inter alia parting ways. 

Beautifully scripted and drawn, it requires a certain slow-food like approach, savoring it bit by bit – otherwise you speed though those bare 200 pages, chew on them and digest, and zas, the story (well, the third story) ends. Don’t rush. 


Нью-Йоркская азбука Александра Флоренского

Одна из одиннадцати книг питерского художника Александра Флоренского в серии Азбука, его карандашно-угольно-графические зарисовки-травелоги из разных городов. Нью-Йорк близок моему сердцу, раз два лета (2017 и 2019 я провёл там) – хоть и не со всеми выборами букв у Александра я согласен. 

А “W” так вообще повеселила страшно. Не знаю как в 2015 году, а в 2019 Williamsburg could easily be called Hisptersburg.

 


Patience by Daniel Clowes

Patience, Daniel Clowes‘ 2016 story on travel in time, a hectic run to save a pregnant girl from imminent murder, 2012, 2029, 2006, 1985, and 2012 again, is a colorful and witty tale, which, sadly, reeks of its background liberal and socialist agenda, aiming to solve all the injustices in this world by violence and even more injustice.

Clever and fast-paced, without doubt, but there are way too many science fiction novels on the matter that could easily best it. Say, All You Need is Kill is a great example.


The Wild Party by Joseph Moncure March and Art Spiegelman

Wow, such a wholesome, rhythmic, totally jazzed-up poem from the roaring twenties, a true gem by Joseph Moncure March, then managing editor of the recently established The New Yorker magazine, spiced up with Art Spiegelman’s black and white drawings of 1994.

First published in 1926, two years before Bertolt Brecht’s similarly tuned Three-Penny Opera hit the stage, in those careless final years of laugher and prosperity before the Great Depression and War, this short barely a hundred-page long smashed up, sexed up, and cocked up narrative drama of a lovers’ fight, seduction, jealousy and vengeance in a bubbling new New York apartment, propped against a totally Gatsbian wild party atmosphere, is definitely the best piece of frivolous poetry I’ve read in a while.

Queenie was a blonde, and her age stood still,

And she danced twice a day in a vaudeville.

Lip-smacking, invigorating, well ahead of its time, and quite contemporary today.


Reflections of a Wine Merchant by Neal Rosenthal

img_0401-2Following in tracks of Kermit Lynch’s spectacular Adventures on the Wine Route, probably the best wine book ever written, out almost a decade and a half before Reflections, Neal Rosenthal shares this colorful memoir of his early days as an NYC wine importer and retailer, traveling across France and Italy in times long gone, when no-one knew who, for instance, Hubert Lignier or Paolo Bea were.

A funny read, riddled with anecdotes and full of tales about a handful of cult producers, yet it is also a brilliant discussion on the shortcomings of the modern wine trade, about a battle between quality, tradition and legacy with sales, vogue and technology, putting a wedge between classic and natural wines vs their commercial and rather soulless adversaries.

Be prepared – Neal is not hiding his resentment, he is blunt and straightforward, no words are spared for growers and distributors who favored an additional buck at the expense of filtering, over-sulfuring, raising alcohol level or otherwise diluting true drops of gold. And as all wine is perishable, and renown wine families may also come to an end (a few lamentable examples are described in great detail) – it is also Neal’s tribute and a way of remembrance of some former treasures long surrendered and lost.

Essential reading for passionate wine geeks.


When the Wolves Bite by Scott Wapner

A quick and rather superfluous read, a story of Bill Ackman and Carl Icahn’s fight over Herbalife, an MLM dietary supplements producer accused by Ackman of being a pyramid-like Ponzi scheme. Ackman lost his fight, Herbalife survived, though in a somewhat crippled way – and this story, frankly, bears no moral whatsoever – it is just yet another Wall Street popcorn read you can devour in a few hours on the beach.

The Netflix movie on the same subject, Betting on Zero, is a much more candid thing, though siding entirely with Ackman in this struggle – it has certain honesty about it, determination, candor. Though somewhat socialist and anti-aynrandian, you inadvertently sympathize Ackman, posing as a Don Quixote for the poor defrauded Latino communities (sic!).

Yet, if you want to read a true activist book, don’t read this CNBC summary report by Wapner, glorifying again and again the harsh talk he had with both investors on live TV. Better read David Einhorn’s Fooling Some of the People All of the Time – a short-seller’s tale in his own words. Or bloody read The Big Short, definitely a more wholesome read.


Mary wept over the feet of Jesus: Prostitution and religious obedience in the Bible by Chester Brown

img_0025Given a hell of controversy this may spark, I’d rather leave this review intentionally blanc. The title is self-explanatory. Read the book and decide for yourself.


The New Wine Rules by Jon Bonné

img_0022-1A short, funny, rather entertaining book by Jon Bonné, something young wine aficionados should read and enjoy. Actually, I was okay with it as well.

Funny find – the diagram of technical/traditional wines, classified whether they are in or out of fashion now. Hilarious!


My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

KOBK_15A short new graphic novel by the duo of Brubaker and Phillips falls in the tracks of their well known Criminal series, it’s is indeed another short noir story. A wrong man meets a wrong woman. What makes it different is the combination of striking blue and yellow colors, more shameless and alluring than I would expect.

A brief easy read.


Berlin by Jason Lutes

img_9978-1A 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