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

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).… Continue reading Reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories / It All Happened So Fast

Reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories / Disconnect

“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… Continue reading Reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories / Disconnect

Reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories / Two Short Loops

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… Continue reading Reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories / Two Short Loops

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

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

Reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories / Untitled Wordless Loop

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… Continue reading Reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories / Untitled Wordless Loop

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

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

Reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories / I just met

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… Continue reading Reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories / I just met

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

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

Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories in reverse, Part IX

I am rereading Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories, starting with the sixtieth story and working my way to the first and writing about it. Previous entries: Stories 60-55 Stories 54-49 Stories 48-43 Stories 42-37 Stories 36-31 Stories 30-25. Stories 24-19 Stories 18-13. In this post, stories 12-7 12. “The Dolt” (Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts, 1968) An odd domestic… Continue reading Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories in reverse, Part IX

Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories in reverse, Part VIII

I am rereading Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories, starting with the sixtieth story and working my way to the first and writing about it. Previous entries: Stories 60-55 Stories 54-49 Stories 48-43 Stories 42-37 Stories 36-31 Stories 30-25. Stories 24-19. This post covers stories 18-13. 18. “The Phantom of the Opera’s Friend” (City Life, 1970) Barthelme’s goof… Continue reading Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories in reverse, Part VIII

Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories in reverse, Part VII

I am rereading Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories, starting with the sixtieth story and working my way to the first and writing about it. Previous entries: Stories 60-55 Stories 54-49 Stories 48-43 Stories 42-37 Stories 36-31 Stories 30-25. This post covers stories 24-19. 24. “Critique de la Vie Quotidienne” (Sadness, 1972) A cruel cruel story bristling with… Continue reading Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories in reverse, Part VII

Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories in reverse, Part V

I am rereading Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories, starting with the sixtieth story and working my way to the first and writing about it. Previous entries: Stories 60-55 Stories 54-49 Stories 48-43 Stories 42-37 This post covers stories 36-31. 36. “The Captured Woman” (Amateurs, 1976) Simultaneously creepy and funny, “The Captured Woman“ is narrated by an unnamed… Continue reading Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories in reverse, Part V

Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories in reverse, Part I

I am rereading Donald Barthelme’s 1981 collection Sixty Stories. I am reading the stories in reverse chronological order. This reverse reading came about in this way: I read an intense, shocking, horrifying novel, and then I read it again. Then I tried to get into three or maybe four novels with no luck. So I… Continue reading Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories in reverse, Part I

Read “Piper in the Woods,” Philip K. Dick’s early short story about men turning into plants

“Piper in the Woods” by Philip K. Dick First published in Imagination: Stories of Science and Fantasy, February 1953 and made available via Project Gutenberg. “Well, Corporal Westerburg,” Doctor Henry Harris said gently, “just why do you think you’re a plant?” As he spoke, Harris glanced down again at the card on his desk. It… Continue reading Read “Piper in the Woods,” Philip K. Dick’s early short story about men turning into plants

Read “Details of a Sunset,” a short story by Vladimir Nabokov

“Details of a Sunset” by Vladimir Nabokov The last streetcar was disappearing in the mirrorlike murk of the street and, along the wire above it, a spark of Bengal light, crackling and quivering, sped into the distance like a blue star. “Well, might as well just plod along, even though you are pretty drunk, Mark,… Continue reading Read “Details of a Sunset,” a short story by Vladimir Nabokov

Annotations on a probably incomplete list of books I read or reread in full in 2019

The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman, Angela Carter Deeply horny and deeply deprave. Hoffman sprints along with an out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire energy. It’s a picaresque adventure with narrator Desiderio taking on titular mad scientist Hoffman and his war against reality. Wild shit happens and each chapter feels like it could stand on its own as a… Continue reading Annotations on a probably incomplete list of books I read or reread in full in 2019