Reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories / It All Happened So Fast

Art, Books, Comics, Literature, Reviews, Writers

As seems to be the case more often than not in this series of write-ups on reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories, I’ve taken the title from the first line of the first panel (below); you can see the scale of this chapter in folded broadside in the pic above (which also reveals the heart of this episode).…

Reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories / Disconnect

Books, Comics, Literature, Reviews, Writers

“Disconnect,” one of the longer episodes in Chris Ware’s novel Building Stories, serves as a reminder of Ware’s strength as a prose writer. Wordiness tends to kill illustrated storytelling, at least in my estimation. Sure, there are exceptions—Joe Sacco and Harvey Pekar come to mind—but in general, I think comics are at their best when thought…

Reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories / Two Short Loops

Art, Books, Comics, Literature, Writers

These two shorties in Chris Ware’s Building Stories showcase the novel’s thematic recursion, a recursion doubled in both its metastructure (14 pieces that the reader can read in any order) as well as the structure of many of the individual pieces. In the case of the two parts pictured above, we get Möbius strips that become richer with…

Reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories / Big Four Panel Board Book

Art, Books, Comics, Literature, Reviews, Writers

Continuing reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories; also, continuing the ad hoc naming of its “chapters”: let’s call this one the Big Four Paneled Board Book. It’s big. Shown here in relation to a local brew (clearly the best way to illustrate scale): It’s difficult to describe how each chapter enriches the story of Building Stories. There’s something Borgesian…

Reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories / Untitled Wordless Loop

Books, Comics, Literature, Reviews, Writers

Continuing this project: I’ve thus far titled the pieces I’ve been reading of Chris Ware’s Building Stories in a rather ad hoc fashion, but this entry is a wordless affair. It continues the story of the “lonely girl,” the “cripple” who is the primary narrator of September 23rd, 2000. Here, we see her raising her daughter in…

Reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories / I just met

Art, Books, Comics, Literature, Reviews, Writers

Continuing kinda sorta where we left off— Not sure of the name of this episode, but I’ll refer to it as I just met, a phrase that repeats twice in a huge headlinish font that seems to suggest, y’know, title: I just met uses a few pages to tell the story of a deteriorating relationship—what happens when two…

Reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories / Branford, the Best Bee in the World

Art, Books, Comics, Literature, Reviews, Writers

Chris Ware’s latest collection Building Stories comprises fourteen comics of different shapes, sizes, and formats. I wrote about opening the box a few days ago, and I’ll (try to) write about reading each of the pieces. I started with Brandford, the Best Bee in the World, the tragicomic existential dilemma of a bee: In an opening segment freighted…

Reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories / September 23rd, 2000

Art, Books, Comics, Literature, Reviews, Writers

September 23rd, 2000 is one of the longer pieces in Chris Ware’s box set, Building Stories. Part of the joy and frustration of Building Stories is its free form—the possibility of reading one piece before another, of getting one tale or perspective before another. I started with Branford, which seems in retrospective a fairly neutral opening—it introduces many of…

A Riff on What I Read (And Didn’t Read) in 2012

Books, Literature, Reviews, Writers

I didn’t really read that many new books—by which I mean books published in 2012—this year. The highlight of the new books I did read was Chris Ware’s Building Stories, the moving story of the lives of several people (and a bee!) who live in the titular building (and other places. And other buildings. Look,…

Book Shelves #51, 12.16.2012

Books, Literature, Writers

    Book shelves series #51, fifty-first Sunday of 2012 I am very ready for this project to be over. Two more weeks. At this point, I’ve photographed all book shelves (and other bookbearing surfaces) in the house, but clearly the book shelves aren’t stable. I mean, structurally, sure, they’re stable. But their content shifts. So…

Charles Burns’s The Hive (Book Acquired 10.15.2012)

Art, Books, Comics, Literature, Writers

For some reason—some reason founded on no reason at all but rather superstitious suspicion—I didn’t believe Charles Burns would follow up X’ed Out, the first chapter of a proposed trilogy. I suppose X’ed Out had unresolved cult classic written all over it (written metaphorically, of course). X’ed Out was one of my favorite books of 2010. From my review:…