Sunday, June 28, 2015

Book Bingo: Six Lines Complete

Only three more squares to go on my Books on the Nightstand bingo card! My earlier book bingo posts are here (two lines) and here (four lines), in case you missed them.

Following are my comments on the books for the categories in the two vertical lines outlined above in orange.

WESTERN: Law of the Desert Born by Louis L'Amour et. al. [Graphic novel]
In the bottom panel,
the sole of his boot
comes right out at the
reader, and his hat
breaks into the panel
above, creating a nice
sense of motion.
(Click to make big.)
Thank you to Melwyk/Melanie over at The Indextrious Reader for recommending some westerns approached from a different slant (see the comments below my first book bingo post). I was tempted by Mary Doria Russell's Doc, but decided to save that for another time. Instead, I went with a classic that has been transformed into a graphic novel.
Writer Charles Santino and artist Thomas Yeates adapted Beau L'Amour and Katherine Nolan's audio script of Law of the Desert Born, which had already been adapted from a short story written in the mid-twentieth century by Beau's father, Louis L'Amour.
Designed with minimal text and an oversize page format, Yeates' realistic black and grey washed illustrations are a significant aspect of the narrative. I found them immediately appealing.
In an afterward, Beau writes, "One of the best aspects of the audio script was that there were no gunfighters, no hidden treasures, no girl who was the daughter of 'the richest man in the county.' It was just about working stiffs trying to keep their heads above water and doing a bad job of it." 
Yes! And the main characters are not clearly good guys or bad guys. I loved the ambiguity and the layers of loyalty and betrayal. It's very noir and I could not guess how it would end. It was excellent and I could not have been more surprised.
I could have slotted this into my THAT YOU THINK YOU WILL DISLIKE bingo category (if it hadn't already been taken) since I wasn't too fond of L'Amour's Hondo. I was as wrong about Law of the Desert Born as I was about disliking the book I did use for that category (Soccer In Sun and Shadow.) So, thank you to BOTNS book bingo for leading me to two books I never would have read otherwise!

HAS A PLACE-NAME IN THE TITLE: The Green Road by Anne Enright (Intersection with a previous line. See Book Bingo: Four Lines Complete.)

WITH A CHILD ON THE COVER: The Door: Poems by Margaret Atwood
The photo on the dust jacket is of Atwood as a child. (Awww!) Did anyone back then guess what a literary powerhouse she would grow up to become? I'm excited about her new stand-alone novel, The Heart Goes Last, coming out in September 2015. Meanwhile, I still find books of hers that are new to me. I spotted this poetry collection on a truck of recently-returned materials at the library. I've now read it through several times. So good! Wry, poignant, and relevant to contemporary life. I would recommend this to people who normally avoid poetry.

Owl and Pussycat, Some Years Later
"So here we are again, my dear,
on the same shore we set out from
years ago, when we were promising,
but minus - now - a lot of hair,
or fur or feathers, whatever.
I like the bifocals. They make you look
even more like an owl than you are.
But sing on, sing
on, someone may still be listening
besides me. The fish for instance.
Anyway, my dearest one,
we still have the moon." 

In my head, I can hear Atwood's distinctive voice and cadence as I read her poetry. She makes me smile.

AN AUDIOBOOK: Kindred by Octavia Butler [Recorded Books audiobook: 11 hr: read by Kim Staunton] (Intersection with a previous line. See Book Bingo: Two Lines Complete.)

WITH AN ANIMAL ON THE COVER: Blacksad by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido [Graphic novel, translator unknown]
This is an outstanding collection of three stories in the style of 1950s hard-boiled detective noir, except with anthropomorphic characters. John Blacksad is a private eye with a muscular human body and the head of a black cat. I know this sounds weird, but it really works. I can also recommend another in the series: Amarillo. Readalikes: Grandville (Bryan Talbot); Britten and Brulightly (Hannah Berry); and Richard Stark's Parker series (Darwyn Cooke). Also, if you liked Mort(e) by Robert Repino, try Blacksad.

AN ACADEMIC/CAMPUS NOVEL: SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki [Graphic novel]
It's a bit of a stretch to place it in this category, since it's more of a boarding school story, but whatever. Jillian Tamaki is brilliant and I love this anthology. The comics follow the lives of a group of students with magical abilities. My favourite characters include Marsha, who has a crush on fox-shapeshifter Wendy, and Frances, who is always staging feminist performance art. Check out some of it online here.

WITH A MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURE ON THE COVER: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson [Graphic novel] (Intersection with a previous line. See Book Bingo: Four Lines Complete.)

BY AN AUTHOR WITH AMERICAN INDIAN/FIRST NATIONS/INDIGENOUS HERITAGE: If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth [Listening Library audiobook: 10 hr 20 min: read by the author]
Louis Blake faces heartbreaking discrimination as the only Aboriginal student in his Grade 7 class in the 1970s. He is from a poor family on the Tuscarora Reservation, not far from the Canadian border in New York State. I picked this up because of a recommendation by Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children's Literature. It made me laugh and it made me cry.
Readalike: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian (Sherman Alexie).

ROMANCE OR LOVE STORY: The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
(Intersection with a previous line. See Book Bingo: Two Lines Complete.)

SET IN EUROPE: Antennas Everywhere by Julie Delporte [Graphic novel, translation by Helge Dascher]
A fictional diary of a young woman in France who suffers a debilitating sensitivity to the electromagnetic radiation emitted by modern technology. I was immediately sucked in by this story and I love the impressionistic style of art and text, both of which are rendered in coloured crayon. Delporte now lives in Canada.
Readalike: The Voyeurs (Gabrielle Bell) for another graphic memoir with a melancholic atmosphere; Girl In the Dark: A Memoir (Anna Lyndsey) for another rare disorder connected to technology.
Coming up soon: Book Bingo Blackout!

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