Books that aren’t graphic novels

THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins proves that as my friend has observed, dystopias change with the times: I’ve seen stories involving a game show of death, but here we have a coal-miner’s daughter trapped in what’s more a reality-tv show of death. While I’ve seen the movie, the story of Katniss Everard struggling to stay alive lives up to its rep—this is grim, action-packed and thoroughly absorbing. Too bad the library’s currently out of Catching Fire.
THE DOCTOR AND THE ROUGH RIDER by Mike Resnick is a very poo steampunk Western set in a world where Native American sorcery has blocked white expansion beyond the Mississippi, a policy Geronimo wishes to reverse. To do this he allies with Thomas Edison and Teddy Roosevelt, which in turn prompts less cooperative shamans to raise a demonic killer to take them out. Unfortunately the promising premise is killed by having the characters do nothing much besides sit around and talk, usually about how utterly awesome Roosevelt is (I don’t dispute that he’s awesome, but Resnick’s characters gush almost as much as that Deathstroke collection I complained about)
THE DAMNED AND THE BEAUTIFUL: American Youth in the 1920s by Paula Fass is more specifically about WASP College Youth in the era, Fass arguing that youth culture as we know it (rejecting adult ways but conforming to the peer group, loss of faith in religion, interest in athletics rather than intellectual pursuits, enthusiasm for fads and sex) was born in the decade (as she’s writing this in the 1970s, I wonder if she’s not just seeing her own world mirrored in the past). One flaw in this is that she buys into discredited assumptions about Victorian rejection of female sexuality; another is that this gets very abstract, relying heavily on surveys, statistics and newspaper columns about the young much more than it does any actual young voices (some examples or personal memoirs by real people would help flesh this out)—how did some of the intellectual “wets” feel about all this, for instance? And the section on parenting and children is so abstract I really have no idea what a middle-class child’s life was like. Interesting, but not A-list.
( #SFWApro )
THE SNOW CHILD by Eowyn Ivey has a couple in 1920s Alaska coping with what’s either a feral child whose father drank himself to death or a living snow figure they’ve brought to life out of their need for company. This starts well in a magical realist vein but as it goes on, it becomes a much more mundane novel of Life in 1920s Alaska, which didn’t interest me much. Still, if you’re reading this J., thanks for lending it to me.


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3 responses to “Books that aren’t graphic novels

  1. Pingback: Books | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: Creating a world we’d want to live in | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  3. Pingback: Batman, Black Panther and of course testosterone: Books | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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