Monday, 4 April 2016

Graphic Novels of Feb and March: In Real Life, Skim, Embroideries, Fun Home, Chicken With Plums

This year I'm counting graphic novels in my reading challenge because they totally count and as I read 5 over February and March I thought I'd round em up here in this very post. It turns out my local library has a pretty good collection so I've been working my way through that!

In Real Life
I picked up this beautiful graphic novel by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang on my birthday. As usual I was drawn in by its beautiful illustrations but the story was worth staying for. Anda is a high school student who loves online gaming, specifically the massively-multiplayer role-playing game Coarsegold Online. Anda is REALLY GOOD at this game, and is part of a all-girl guild. Real life and online life collide as Anda makes friends within the game with another kid in playing in China. I loved the art, I loved the story. I feel like it has a really strong moral heart within it. Also the physical copy is a beauty. The colours are wow!

I found Skim in the library, and was drawn in by the authors Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki who also wrote This One Summer, which I read last year. I also remember reading excerpts of this in my Sequential Narrative class in Toronto. So I was happy to finally read this story of Kimberly Keiko Cameron, nicknamed 'Skim', a wannabe Wiccan at high school in the early 90s. There's a suicide storyline, when a classmates' boyfriend kills himself, and the school becomes obsessed with spotting depression in its students. Skim is secretly meeting her English teacher Ms. Archer during all this, while also figuring out her friendship with her best friend, finding dates for the formal, and generally navigating teenage life. A really nice coming of age story, encompassing all the complications of high school. Has the same kind of thoughtful nostalgia as This One Summer .

The beginning of my Marjane Satrapi season. I had recently rewatched the Persepolis film (of which I now have a book copy and will read soon!), and spotted Embroideries in the library. This is such a funny and truthful little book. It's only a hundred or so pages, but there is so much good stuff packed in there! Over an afternoon of tea drinking, we learn of the love stories and sex lives of several generations of Iranian women in Majane's family. Her grandmother, mother, aunts, neighbours, cousins, all have stories from their various marriages and romances. I absolutely love Marjane Satrapi's humorous narrative style and her artwork is just great, capturing the personalities of each character in simple ink. 10/10 definitely read this! If anything. it's super enlightening!

Fun Home
I listened to Fun Home being discussed on the SRSLY podcast and then, once again, spotted it in the library. I'd been looking out for Alison Bechdel work, so I was very pleased to find it. This is a longun, with Bechdel looking back over her childhood at her relationship with her father, who died when she was in college. His death came just a few weeks after she came out as a lesbian to her parents, at which time her dad also came out as gay. Bechdel looks back over events in her childhood to unravel the mysteries of her father and their relationship and come to terms with his death I guess. This was a really interesting graphic memoir, mostly set in the family's funeral home business. Thoughtful, unapologetic storytelling and detailed artwork. Definitely wroth reading.

Chicken With Plums
Continuing Marjane Satrapi season, the library also had Chicken With Plums! Set in November 1955, Nasser Ali Khan is a celebrated tar player, and Marjane Satrapi's great-uncle. The story takes place over the eight days leading to his death, after he has given up on life due to the breaking of his beloved tar. Satrapi tells stories of his past and of his childrens' futures too, again with the same humour and wit she is known for. Offering glimpses into Iranian culture pre-1950s, and handling issues of death, love, life, and music with humour and grace. Also now I want to eat chicken with plums mmmm.

Any graphic novel recommendations are most welcome! Lemme know!

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