Books and Graphic Novels (#SFWApro)

Would have gotten to this yesterday but we’re now up to bicycling 25 miles and that leaves me a little wiped.
1772030THE ART OF SMALL THINGS by John Mack (all rights to cover with current holder) looks at miniatures and why we find them so fascinating and beautiful, so it comes with lots of nice illustration. The writing is dry, but this has a lot of range, covering efforts to print the world’s smallest book, Japanese netsuke carvings, the emotional attachment to miniature portraits of our loved ones, and the idea of museums and maps as miniature forms of the larger world.
PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK by Joan Lindsay is an interesting Australian novel about four girls at an Australian school who go off for the title event and disappear. Lindsay’s story is less about the never-explained vanishing than the fall-out, which affects not only the school and its students but the girls’ families, a local well-to-do young man and others even further afield. Nicely done—so nicely there’s a legend that this was based on a real event (it wasn’t).
As Maria in Southern Discomforts is a Vietnam veteran, I read HOME BEFORE MORNING: The True Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam by Lynda Van Devanter as research. Van Devanter’s autobiography tells how she and her best friend went from nurse to Army nurse in a burst of idealism (if our boys were fighting for freedom, shouldn’t they help?), only to enter a harrowing world of desperate surgeries and triage, random enemy attacks and sudden death, which they survive with the help of love affairs, booze and pot (one criticism of the book when it came out in the early 1980s was that it was outrageous and insulting to suggest Army medical staffs worked while under the influence). When “Van” returns after a year in ‘nam, she’s stuck with PTSD, an intensely anti-war stance (joining Vietnam Veterans Against the War), a vanished best friend (she never learns what happened to her) and a country that doesn’t quite grasp women can be veterans too. Useful to my work and Excellent in its own right, this was also a major inspiration for the China Beach TV series.
CAPTURING THE LIGHT: The Birth of Photography, a True Story of Genius and Rivalry by Roger Watson and Helen Rappaport is written with bland style but the history of Daguerre (the French photography pioneer who created the “daguerrotype”) and Henry Fox Talbot, who developed an alternative photography method earlier (but never announced it), still makes for interesting reading. It turns out the problem for photography wasn’t just imprinting the image but figuring out how to keep it from soaking up more light until it turned black, both Talbot and Daguerre cracking the answer in different ways. While not really a rivalry in the usual sense (both men worked independently, with no idea they were in competition), it’s an interesting tale.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: The Throne of Atlantis, by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis confirms my dissatisfaction with Johns’ take on the League. While the team is finally jelling, the Superman/Wonder Woman romance still doesn’t work for me and not for a moment do I buy that a competent B-lister such as Ocean Master can take on the League. It doesn’t help that Johns’ version is a knock-off of Marvel’s Sub-Mariner (Atlantean ruler, hates the surface world).
TEEN TITANS: Titans East by Johns and multiple co-creators is a pre-reboot DC story in which Deathstroke once again creates a team of villainous Titans to take on his old enemies (if you’re a fan of Arrow yes, Deathstroke is a Titans foe in the comics, though he has fought Ollie a couple of times). It’s readable but the ultimate motive for Deathstroke’s plan just reduces this to idiot plot.

2 Comments

Filed under Comics, Reading

2 responses to “Books and Graphic Novels (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: TV and Movies (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: Reading Material (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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