Wednesday, December 29, 2010

War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

If 'n Oof
by Brian Chippendale

X'ed Out
by Charles Burns

Acme #20
by Chris Ware

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Summer Book
by Tove Jansson

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Robert E. Lee by Roy Blount Jr.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Best American Comics Criticism
ed. Ben Schwartz
-I was annoyed by this book.  The title claims far too much for what it is.  The choices are sometimes bewildering stunts, often mediocre, though of course many are fine.  It ends up seeming silly and like a half-assed editing job. If the title was supposed to be taken seriously, it's half-assed; if not, it should have had a humbler name.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Roughing It
by Mark Twain

Sunday, October 10, 2010

As William James Said:
ed. Elizabeth Aldrich
- Just a bunch of quotes and passages.  Weird book, quick read. 

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

One Man's Meat
by EB White

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Moominsummer Madness
by Tove Jansson

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Moominpoppa at Sea
by Tove Jansson
-I had important, brilliant world-changing notes written on the bookmark.  I finished the book this morning.  Now I have somehow lost the bookmark.  Where did it go???

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Love of a Good Woman
by Alice Munro
-Another book sale pickup, begun randomly one night a few weeks ago. If I could go back and give myself advice about this book, I'd recommend just the first three stories, esp. the first–the title story, which was pretty awesome. All the stories are of course well-crafted and the characters varied and vivid, but after the first three, maybe not weird enough. For a dude, reading these stories about women and the various kinds of relationships with men and with each other–the loves of "good women"– was definitely wandering outside usual zones of research.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Watcher and other stories
by Italo Calvino

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Phantom Tollbooth
by Norman Juster

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Geological Time
by Stephen Jay Gould

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Absence of Mind
by Marilynne Robinson
- I hope to write about this when I get some more time.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Berlioz and His Century: An Introduction To the Age of Romanticism
by Jacque Barzun

Monday, July 19, 2010

Little Lulu Vol. 23
-I dunno if I've been keeping track of these on this blog, but yeah I've read them all, up until vol. 23, as has Katie. @#%!. It occurs to me that I've read maybe more pages of Lulu than any other comics? Not a bad way to spend your @#%!ing leisure time.  Alvin tells a story in this one!  Tubby-sitting on Halloween, The Spider spins, and a unexpected homage to Abraham Lincoln.  Seems like Tripp starts using a different new brush in this one, but I'm not sure.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Best American Short Stories 1998
ed. Garrison Keillor
- I felt like reading the kind of stories I figured would be in here. I was right! I like to buy these old Best Americans at the YMCA booksales. Mr. Keillor says in the introduction that he read and selected all the of the stories without knowing the authors' names. Seems like a good approach, but how did that super boring Updike story make it in? Some really good stories and some pretty good ones, along with a few snoozers, which is usually the case with these Best American gimmick-books.

Friday, July 09, 2010

A Jacques Barzun Reader
- Got this for a buck.  Loved reading it, a nice hardcover. The straightforward and sensible essay "Criticism: Art or Craft?" was timely and instructive for me during the last few weeks, when so many comics critics and cartoonists have been talking about these subjects. 

Here's something from p. 506, "Three Enemies of Intellect"--
"Avante garde psychology, avante-garde art, and the philanthropy that is coeval with them, alike cherish the warm confusions of animal existence." The first part of the sentence is maybe confusing without the context, but the last bit about "warm confusions" is nice. Even when he overstates and over-generalizes, in order to correct what he sees as the sloppy over-reaching of progressives and avante-gardes, I sympathize with him more than, say, the pontifications of a GK Chesterton or Marilynne Robinson, or a lot of conservative-minded writers, who seem to cherish warm confusions of a different kind. It's because I know that in Barzun there's always the strong influence of William James. Barzun's book on James needs to be read first, I think, (I've read it twice) and definitely before House of Intellect. Barzun follows James in his secularism and pluralism, and he stays very open-minded and relativistic, enthusiastic and sensible, no matter how cranky he might get in his old age.

"This rational linking of fact, motive, and explanation is what distinguishes sensible crime fiction from the thriller, which is the acme of helter-skelter [guess he never read superhero comic books]. Thrillers can be fun when the writer makes things happen so rapidly and surprisingly that the reader never even thinks of motive of probability. Otherwise, actions and agents appear childish and insane by turns, and the effect is tedium and disgust."
 (p.568 "A Catalogue of Crime").

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ethan Frome
by Edith Wharton

by Jim Woodring

by various
-I really hated this, but forced myself to finish it.  (The week this came out, I had been thinking about Godel and Russell and Wittgenstein and about how much I'd like to draw comics about them, I shit you not.  When I saw the book on the shelf I couldn't believe it!)  Here's all you need to know:  this book refers to these philosophers and mathematicians as "true superheroes."  In the actual story, the writer of the story says that.  It's often super corny and artless in this way.  Also, the "lecture with slideshow" genre of nonfiction comics is on display, literally, as a framing device. (I'm guilty of this too, but I swear I try to avoid it, or at least do it right...)  It's a great story, 20th C. and wars and Russell and Ludwig and all that, in theory, but this was cheeseball.  It's a shame they ruined the material.  Here "comix" means cheese and melodrama and writing for "young adults," not just the formal sense of mixing words and pictures.  NYT Bestseller.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Kat Who Walked In Beauty
by Geo. Herriman
-Read 2 pages a day, every so often, for 6+ months to get through this.  I was very inspired by it...the world of it, the forms.  The world has changed a lot since Mr. Herriman drew these strips.  Some real groaners in here, but some good jokes too.

Market Day
by James Sturm
-I loved this.  It's very dark.  Beautiful sequences.

books from class

Exemplary Tales of Love (Novelas ejemplares y amorosas) by María de Zayas y Sotomayor
Lazarillo de Tormes (anonymous)
Novelas ejemplares por Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Half of Snow Leopard and Shadow Country by Peter Mathiessen

Kiss of the Spider Woman (Beso de la mujer araña) by Manuel Puig, thought I'd hate it and I loved it
The Bad Girl (Las Travesuras de la niña mala) by Mario Vargas Llosa, thought I'd love it and I hated it
100 Years of Solitude (Cien Años de Soledad) by Gabriel García Márquez (Gabo)
Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo, remembered from 10 years ago as a "dry classic" but was wrong, it's awesome
The Death of Artemio Cruz (La muerte de Artemio Cruz) by Carlos Fuentes, maybe a bit over-dramatic in parts
The Invention of Everything Else
by Samantha Hunt
- After the first 50 pages it seemed pretty good, but I decided to stop.  Complicated feelings about the project.  But it seems smart and readable.
The Culture of Fear: Why Americans are Afraid of the Wrong Things
by Barry Glassner
-A run-through of the big media panics of the past few decades, and what's the deal.  Turns out people don't check the facts, believe what they want to hear, love a scary story, and distract themselves from looking directly at the real problems because it's too uncomfortable.  Pro-gun conservatives come out looking particularly bad.  Actually, conservatives in general come out looking pretty bad in this book, though I wouldn't say the book as a political agenda.  I suppose it makes sense; the conservative attitude tends to be fearful.  (I speak from past experience.  And certainly not every fear is misplaced)  The second group that comes out looking foolish and dangerous are, of course, journalists.  Their environment selects for stories of outrage and danger...  The hero is the skeptic--patient, thorough, sensible.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Educating the Reflective Practitioner
by Donald A Schon.

"In a climate of mystery and mastery, undiscussability and indescribability reinforce each other.  We keep ourselves unaware of what we already know because we habitually stay away from situations where we are called on to describe it.  We describe it poorly because we get so little practice, which reinforces our disposition to keep it undiscussable."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Exploit: A Theory of Networks
by Alexander R. Galloway and Eugene Thacker

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Design of Design
Essays from a Computer Scientist
Frederick P. Brooks, Jr.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Portraits from Memory and other essays
by Bertrand Russell

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On Poetic Imagination and Reverie
by Gaston Bachelard

"To say that the poetic image is independent of causality is to make a rather serious statement. But the causes cited by psychologists and psychoanalysts can never really explain the wholly unexpected nature of the new image, any more than they can explain the attraction it holds for a mind that is foreign to the process of its creation.  The poet does not confer the past of his image upon me, and yet his image immediately takes root in me.  The communicability of an unusual image is a fact of great ontological significance.  We shall return to this question of communion through brief, isolate, rapid actions.  Images excite us--afterwards--but they are not the phenomena of an excitement.  In all psychological research, we can, of course, bear in mind psychoanalytical methods for determining the personality of a poet, and thus find a measure of the pressures--but above all of the oppressions--that a poet has been subjected to in the course of his life.  But the poetic act itself, the sudden image, the flare-up of being in the imagination, are inaccessible to such investigations.  In order to clarify the problem of the poetic image philosophically, we shall have to have recourse to a phenomenology of the imagination.  By this should be understood a study of the phenomenon of the poetic image when it emerges into the consciousness as a direct product of the heart, soul and being of man, apprehended in his actuality. "

Sounds like fun to me...I'm loving these Bachelard books.  Didn't laugh out loud in gladness as much as with Poetics of Space.  This book is a sampler.  Didn't know that when I ordered it.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Whole Earth Discipline
by Stewart Brand
-Pragmatic and optimistic and terrifying, and well-written, I thought.  Sometimes when I'm searching around for a big abstract category of people to blame, I'll think, "engineers are the ones to blame!"  Brand says he thinks like an engineer, like a problem solver, and that engineering will save us.  We'll see.  Seems like someone really has get to the people in charge, who make the rules, and change their minds. 

Generation Ecstasy
by Simon Reynolds
-I have to say, I really didn't read all that much of this.  But I really liked the parts I did read (esp. the Intro!).  I like Reynolds' writing very much (and it's not just me--he's quite widely respected) and like his critical approach more than I like the music.  More at his several blogs. When I read his series on "the nuum and its discontents" I wished there was a equivalent comics critic.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Poetics of Space
by Gaston Bachelard

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Starting Point 1979 - 1996
Hayao Miyazaki
-collection of interviews and lectures and articles, by the maker of my favorite movies (so far).

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Way Through Doors
by Jesse Ball
-Couldn't get into this. I love meta-, but here there's too much archness/cuteness for me. Maybe there's some smartness to be found in the rest of the book.  Not my style.

Monday, March 01, 2010

The Book of Disquiet
Fernando Pessoa
(Extraordinary Classics)
-finally finished this after years (?) of off and on reading.  It seems like the right way to read this book, with its short, dense meditations.  I'll keep dipping back into it, it's a mental space that's good to return to from time to time.  But I couldn't live there.  I loved the book and felt a fondness and kinship with the author, even though at times I disagreed with the philosophy and attitude toward life he set forth in some of the meditations.  He changes his mind often, however, and experiments with ideas, plays with them, and so it seems wrong to hold him firmly to anything he says.  Irony and dreaming and play, not dialectics.  The book is not about setting forth arguments, though he does try, arguing as an absolute aesthete, the real deal.  This book was never even published in his lifetime.  ...anyways...look it up...  It goes on the shelf with favorite, wise, dense books I'll return to over and over during the years I have left.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

33 1/3 - Another Green World
- not much new to me, but easier to read than Aja or DNation

by Eva Hoffman
-small books, big ideas series by Picador.  Intro was good, so I was excited to read this, but the bulk of it was just "notecard writing" (is there a term for this?)  If you're interested in the broad topic "time," like me, I'd say read the Intro and the final chapter.

Recent noteworthy articles and essays (off top of my head):

Adam Ciralsky in Vanity Fair on Blackwater

James Fallows in the Atlantic on “How America Can Rise Again"

Believer essay by Bachelder about kid and surprises. (Tried reading Bear vs Shark, couldn't get through it, despite the occasional good joke)

David Owen on smells in NYer (loved this, and the nickname one a while back.  I'll buy this book when it comes out)

Article on Tea Party in New Yorker got terrifying with the Creation Museum cameo!

Friday, February 19, 2010

33 1/3 Series:
Daydream Nation
-DNation not recommended, crazy writing.  Aja for chord nerds only, and session musician imdb-ing.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Gave up on Madame Bovary 1/3 through!  Complicated feelings about it, respeck, but couldn't take enough pleasure in it to keep going.  Might try again.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Invention of Air
by Steven Johnson

-Good pop science/history, short, but a lot packed in here, good ideas.  I probably should read his other books. (also see his talk with Eno at ICA, can be found in iTunes podcasts)