I just finished James Kochalka’s American Elf. It’s splendid. Collecting 5 years of his daily online strip, it’s his best work. The totality of it; the effect is like heaving a giant boulder into a placid lake. The strips may not work as effectively when presented individually, but together have that kind of collective impact. Capturing all moments from every strata of a daily life, it can be familiar and then completely crazy and then sad, silly to romantic to cute to bewildering.
Before that, Nicholson Baker’s The Fermata. About a man who discovers he can stop time and uses it to undress women. A lot of the fantasies and scenarios he describes are familiar. The others are intriguing. Baker writes with a very fluid, smooth-flowing style. In that way he is like 2 other favorite writers of mine, Paul Auster and Haruki Murakami. Where you open the book, begin to read to get a feel for the language, and the next thing you know you’re 6 pages into the book. Easy to slip in, drifted along by the careful selection and placement of the perfect word after the one you’re reading. I especially like the particular edition I have; it’s part of a line called Vintage Blue, reprinting classic and contemporary “erotic” work, including my copy of Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion. It’s designed like a ‘70s porno book, right from the fonts to the faded pink. There’s even a faux pencil mark on the stomach there, and fake pencil marks erasing the “25p” on top. The Passion, unfortunately, isn’t as cleverly designed. It’s 2 mouths kissing, and all pink, with a girly font! How am I supposed to read that in public, being a macho, virile man that I am? Good thing it’s short.
One I forgot to mention finishing was The Complete Bone (snicker). Which, of course, was stupendous. Utterly marvelous. The perfect Christmas gift, I declare. It was just so tremendously satisfying, on pretty much EVERY level. I was shaking by the end. And it had its share of surprises, while hitting all those necessary denouement points that it would frustrate the hardcore fan to do without. I mean, this is a book, a journey, that I began reading in high school, for Christ’s sake. Can I help being a little emotional at the end of it? I think not. It’s probably the best fantasy epic comics has ever seen. I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who likes a good story. And at that price, you can’t lose.
The trip to Scotland has galvanized me, rekindled my love of books. Not just books, but of reading. I have this small pile of books on my headboard that I really want to consume. So I stay up until very late sometimes, thinking “I can still squeeze in another chapter before sleep…”
Now halfway through Chuck Palahniuk’s Non-Fiction (called something else in the US).
Anyone else feel the earthquake? I was reading in bed when it started. It felt like someone really fat was running on the second floor of our house, except that there was no noise. Then my bed started shaking and I actually started to get scared. I actually stood in the doorway for a few seconds at the end of it. Stupidly, what was going through my head was the fact that I was only wearing shorts, and it would be embarrassing if I had to leave the house and stand in the street wearing boxers. My sister woke up but no one else. Then I called Neva.
It was intensity 4.
I wasn’t here for the major earthquake almost 15 years ago(!).
Joey Comeau came up with this brilliant idea, so brilliant that I’m going to rip it off.