Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fear of Fighting, by Stacey May Fowles (illustrations by Marlena Zuber)

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I liked the concept of this book more than the book itself. The author worked with an illustrator to make her simple journal of a character's loneliness and growth into a multidimensional experience for the reader. At least that's what I think she was going for. I'm a big fan of Nick Bantock's work, so like I said, I liked the concept of this book. Unfortunately, neither the story nor the artwork really delivered. The narrator--though realistic--is consummately unlikable and the drawings do little but expand on the main character's self indulgent moaning.

Fun fact about illustrator Marlena Zuber after the break....

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

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The very last page of Erin Morgenstern's stunning debut novel, The Night Circus, (don't worry--I'm not revealing any secrets) is a list of acknowledgments in which she thanks "a number of associates and conspirators behind this book," people without whom the book would not have taken the shape that it did. Although many authors have such acknowledgments pages, in this case I truly believe her. It's not that I think the story is not hers, nor that she could not have written it without help, it's just that the entire novel has a collaborative feel, as though many voices have been heard, many eyes have given their perspective, before the author crafted the perfect, winding narrative.

And that's part of the magic of this book. It is one of those rare delights in which the manner of the story telling is the exact compliment to the story itself. The story winds around the narrative, with each small chapter taking place in a different time or place or from a different perspective, yet all leading to the larger picture--the larger experience--of the Circus of Dreams. The subject of the novel--a magical circus that is only open at night and which has many small circular tents arranged in winding circular patterns within a single circular gate--is described perfectly by the non-linear arrangement and fairy tale tone of the book.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

KARLOLOGY: What I've Learned So Far, by Karl Pilkington

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What can I say? I just can't get enough of Karl Pilkington. I particularly love that spelling and grammatical errors are (sometimes) allowed to stand in his books, because it further illustrates how he thinks. Or doesn't. Sheer idiotic brilliance.