This Week in Reading 11/21

This was a comics heavy week for me, which means it was a good week. I haven’t talked about them much on here so far, but I love the comic book as a medium, and particularly I love superheroes. The idea that someone who comes by a superpower would use it defend other people is beautiful. Neither of the comics I read this week was a superhero comic though, so enough about that.

Undertow, Volume One: Boatman’s Call by Steven Orlando and Artyom Trakhanov is going to be the last volume that I read. The protagonist is a John Q. Marine type character who you can find in just about every first-person shooter ever made and the art style makes the characters hard to differentiate and the battles hard to decipher. I really like to know who is getting shot, rather than just seeing the bloody remains of the head. I don’t want to only say negative things though, because this is a pretty small book, and even if I don’t like the creator’s deserve some credit. There was a very funny and interesting side character, and they do a cool swap by making the sea the safe place for characters and the land where the characters cannot breathe.

The other comic I read, Prophet, Volume One: Remission by Brandon Graham and Simon Roy was much better. During the first issue, I was very worried that it was going to be another John Q. Marine book, but thankfully it turned out to be much cooler. The story is based around a group of clones, which explains the generic personality in a way that makes it acceptable, who are being awakened after years, maybe centuries of hibernation. All of the chapters in this volume are a different stand alone story of one of these John Prophets going on different mission. The reader slowly learns that the John Prohpets may not be the good guy they initially seem like, even if they’re the only traditional humanoid figure we’re seeing. It’s a cool book, and I recommend any comic or scifi fans pick it up.

As I mentioned last week, I also read a large chunk of stories of The Stories of Eva Luna by Isabel Allende for my Latin American Short Fiction class. The class itself has been a wash. The books aren’t the problem, it’s the way we’re studying them. An MFA in Fiction should be looking at everything through the lens of how can we learn from this writer and apply his or her craft to our work, but the class is about literary analysis, which is a fine pursuit and can be found in PhD programs in Fiction. What separates the MFA from the PhD as a degree is that the MFA doesn’t go into literary analysis, which is why I’m so frustrated with this class. Enough complaining. On to the stories!

I’ve read enough fairy tales for a lifetime. From my freshman year of college to maybe a year and a half ago, I loved reinterpretations of fairy tales and I read a lot of them, the originals too. I am, at this point, thoroughly sick of them and unimpressed. To be fair, Allende wrote her book in 1989, so she got in before the boom, so that’s on me for not reading her sooner. The book is older than me. The concept of a fairy tale with extremely real depictions of prostitution, rape, or other dark themes should be shocking, but it’s been done so many times. The last story in the collection, “And of Clay We Are Created” is an amazing straight realism story, and I might read more Allende because that story blew everything else in the collection out of the water.

Next week, I’ll be reading The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector and working on The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson. I’m slowly reading The Space Traveler by Benjamin Grossberg, which is a great poetry collection.

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