Monday, January 11, 2021

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 1/9/20

A bunch of books from the library (which I'd hoped to get to during my vacation) didn't come in until the first week of the year. And that means that I wasn't the only person taking time off and relaxing around the holidays, which I should have realized.

But then, we're always thinking of ourselves first, even when we shouldn't, aren't we?

So these are the books that arrived this week, and that I expect I'll be reading next:

Dreyer's English is a book about writing style, I think mostly along the lines of Strunk & White, from Benjamin Dryer, head managing editor and copy chief for Random House. I haven't been an editor for a decade now, but the editor brain still lurks, so I expect I will Have Opinions on it. This has been pretty much universally lauded, so those opinions may be mostly positive, but I can never predict just how contrarian I will be, so no promises.

Pumpkinheads is a graphic novel written by noted teen novelist Rainbow Rowell and drawn by Faith Erin Hicks. My guess is that Rowell is the bigger draw here -- though their names are the same size on the book, so I could be wrong -- but I've never read her books. (My vague sense is that they are modern-teen relationship books, so the kids are gay or trans or different races rather than the similar books I read as a teen, which were all about broken homes and sad rich kids and rebellion against parents. Every generation gets the books their elders think they deserve, I guess.) I'm a low-key Hicks fan, though -- especially her wonderful The Adventures of Superhero Girl -- so that's why I'm here for what looks like a sweet on-the-verge-of-growing-up story about one night between two friends.

Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihuru -- I'd put in a request for this book well before the felonious activities of this week, but, if I hadn't, I'm sure I would be searching it out anyway. We all need to pay attention to stories of how to stop fascists, especially those marching in our streets and threatening violence. And in our world, we won't have a superpowered alien boy scout to save us. This also is supposed to be very good, and is loosely based on a famous old radio series that supposedly had a marked negative effect on the Klan, so that's good stuff all around.

Dragon Hoops is also by Gene Luen Yang, and he's solo this time -- this is his big graphic novel follow-up to the two-book Boxers and Saints, from almost a decade ago. (Comics take a while, a lot of the time -- especially big comics that tell one story all by one person.) This looks to go back closer to the model of American Born Chinese, Yang's big book before B&S, which was a (slightly fictionalized? I haven't read it in years) story about his own life, and concerned with representation and assimilation, with how to grow up into a world that was made for people who are different from you and still say essentially yourself individually and culturally. Hoops seems to be narrated by Yang himself, though I'm not sure if it's all his story, or a wider look at basketball, sports, and representation in America.

Maggy Garrison is a graphic novel about the title character, a youngish (I think) woman in London who falls into a criminal underworld but (also I think) comes out well all the time. It's written by Lewis Trondheim -- whose work I haven't seen as much the past few years; I'm not clear if he's been focusing more on editorial work or his stuff is not getting translated like it was a decade ago or if I'm just missing it -- and drawn by Stephane Oiry, who's work I haven't seen before. So this looks like something different from Trondheim: my sense is that he did SFF (either silly and for younger readers or Donjon dark for adults), artsy autobio and conceptual comics, and some general adventure, but it all was in an essentially French millieu before Maggy. (As opposed to someone like Tardi, who's done a lot of stories set in various noir versions of the USA.)

Giant Days, Volume 10 is written as usual by John Allison, though the art is divided between Max Sarin (the regular artists, possibly taking a break for two of the issues collected here) and Julia Madrigal (who has a style that's similar enough to Sarin's to slot in nicely, though she has a fussy thing about drawing noses with an extra line across the bridge that kept drawing me up short). Whitney Cogar does the colors as usual. And here I might just have to give up: if you're reading this on a full-size screen it might look wonky before the next book image, since I don't have anything more to say. I've already read this; I'm hoping to write more about it (and volumes 8+9) later today. So: there it is.

Last is Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye, Vol. 2: Every Me, Every You, which was written by Jon Rivera and Gerard Way and drawn by Michael Avon Oeming, with colors by Nick Filardi. Again, I read the first book, realized the library system had the second (and concluding volume) and decided sticking both into one post would be a better thing. I have, as of right this second, read one of the issues collected here, and have a bookmark stuck into it. But that's as far as I've gotten. But this will probably run under my eyes later today, and we'll see what flows out from that through my fingers in the next few days.

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