Habibi by Craig Thompson

An utterly moving yet harsh, cruel and absolutely unexpected graphic novel by Craig Thompson, a much praised comic book artist whose earlier novel Blankets I conveniently missed and now will catch up for sure.

Despite the fact that its almost 700 pages are full of gruesome violence, horrendous child abuse, victimization of women, lust for the underaged, slavery, female torture and executions, self-mutilation, pain and agony, Habibi is but a precious gem. A story of love that goes beyond hardship, beyond pain and suffering, beyond hatred and loss of manhood, beyond the will of cruel rulers and the deeds of cruel men.

It's a roller coaster of Thompson's vivid imagination and no less disturbing imagery, married and intertwined with quotes, fables and passages from the Bible and the Quran.

One of a kind. A brilliant piece of storytelling.

 


The 24-hour Wine Expert by Jancis Robinson

I somehow placed it in my amazon shopping cart, and then my wife bought it by accident – just clicked proceed to checkout, paid and got it delivered to our apartment together with all of her stuff – so I decided, now that I own it, hell, why not give it a shot.

Good, light-hearted and very instructive reading for novel wine enthusiasts, much much better than the widely available Wine Folly book by Madeline Puckette, which some mistakenly buy and believe to be a good reference guide. Less colorful charts and hellava more sense here.

Jancis Robinson, a revered wine expert and a very harsh wine critic, explains it all in short, punchy, and self-explanatory language. The bare minimum of what everyone should know about wine, its production, bottling, how to taste it, common grape varieties, major wine regions, stemware, corkscrews, Coravin, decanting, aging, useful lingo, shop and restaurant tips, all in a hundred tiny A5-like pages.

Not a bad book to recommend if you're interested in the subject, yet feel intimidated by all those long words on expensive Burgundy bottles. On the other hand, if you can name the 30+ Côte d'Or Grand Crus by heart and even name the lieux-dits they're comprised of, well, you can safely skip it.

 


The Nobody by Jeff Lemire

A short small town story about a sad and lonely invisible man, a botched experiment, a typical mad scientist fiasco, a lineman roaming snowy streets and a local teenage girl growing up and becoming friends with the fellow.

Beautiful art by Jeff Lemire, as always – but overall, that's just a trifle, which lacks intensity and depth of Lemire's other graphic novels, especially Essex County.

30 minutes and done.

 


House of Games by David Mamet

Reading the original script of David Mamet's debut 1987 movie is a delight. A brilliant playwright and a brilliant filmmaker, Mamet's con men story keeps you glued to the pages, on the tip of your toes, anxious to move forward. A short 60+ page masterpiece.

A perfect read on a bench in the park. I need to watch this movie again – and soon.

 


This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

A brilliant meditative growing up story, written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by her cousen Jillian.

Soft, gentle, developing slowly around feelings rather than actions, it's like a short long-form prose, повесть in Russian literary terms. A girl feels awkward, in doubt, happy, sad, light-hearted, in love, naw, she has a crush, jealous, disappointed, snappy, mean.

Good book, all in all. A perfect read on a bench in park, when the sun is finally heating up the air from this year's cold late spring.

 


Roughneck by Jeff Lemire

A beautifully composed and well paced a small town tough guy story written and drawn by Jeff Lemire, high contrast black and white colored in various shades of blue.

A short gripping tale, this one. Artistic merits outweigh complexity of the story 3 to 1. Yet, for me, it was a total page turner for one hour. No wonder some call Lemire the Stephen King of comic books, all thanks to the way he keeps you glued to the pages.

Like 'em when they're like this.

 


China Doll by David Mamet

Now, man, what are the chances? After a long biography of Marc Rich which I had finished just yesterday, when I picked up China Doll, David Mamet's last play, to read it queitly in the park this Saturday morning, I had absolutely no clue that it was a book about a local governor using the vast power of US federal government to strike a crushing sledgehammer-strong and disproportionate blow against a retired billionaire/adversary of his over a tax saving scheme that turned sour.

Not David Mamet's best play, but I would interested to see it on stage, Al Pacino playing Mickey. The Premiere was in November 2015, it got a lot of poor press – but is it still on? I'll check it out.