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

I saw only one tower standing to the south, and that one ringed with fire | Denis Johnson

At the moment, I was heading anywhere at all for breakfast, but when I heard the desk clerk’s radio playing news that an aircraft, I assumed a sightseeing plane, had struck Tower Two of the World Trade Center, I decided to jump on the number 3 subway half a block west, and go have a… Continue reading I saw only one tower standing to the south, and that one ringed with fire | Denis Johnson

Blog about Chris Ware’s Rusty Brown (Book acquired, 7 Aug 2019)

I finally dug into Chris Ware’s forthcoming graphic novel, Rusty Brown yesterday. A finished review copy arrived on August 7th, 2019, the day that David Berman died. I had spent some time simply looking at the book’s exquisite book jacket, which unfolds into a kind of two-sided poster thing, complete with notes and suggestions how the… Continue reading Blog about Chris Ware’s Rusty Brown (Book acquired, 7 Aug 2019)

An interview with Margaret Carson about translating Remedios Varo’s Letters, Dreams & Other Writings

As a huge fan of Remedios Varo’s art, I was thrilled last year when Wakefield Press published Margaret Carson’s Letters, Dreams and Other Writings. I reached out to Margaret, who was kind enough to talk to me about her translation in detail over a series of emails.  In addition to Letters, Dreams and Other Writings Margaret Carson’s… Continue reading An interview with Margaret Carson about translating Remedios Varo’s Letters, Dreams & Other Writings

Uncertainty of the real | Blog about the first third of Anna Kavan’s novel Ice

The first three words of Anna Kavan’s 1967 novel Ice are “I was lost,” a simple declaration that seems to serve as a mission statement for the next 60 odd pages. I read these 60 odd pages (63, to be precise, in my Penguin Classics 50th Anniversary Edition of the novel) today, often feeling lost, and glad… Continue reading Uncertainty of the real | Blog about the first third of Anna Kavan’s novel Ice

Post script as self portrait, or, Throwing out a bunch of old magazines

In February of 2002, three friends came to visit me and my girlfriend in our tiny apartment in Tokyo. We had been living there for just a few months, since September of 2001. I was ostensibly teaching English, but really just serving as a conversation partner for overworked salarymen, bored hobbyists, and hopeless teens. These… Continue reading Post script as self portrait, or, Throwing out a bunch of old magazines

Blog about a list of films included in Antoine Volodine’s short story “The Theory of Image According to Maria Three-Thirteen”

Antoine Volodine’s short story “The Theory of Image According to Maria Three-Thirteen” is collected in Writers, a book available in English translation by Katina Rogers from Dalkey Archive Press. Writers is one of the best books I’ve read in the past few years: unsettling, bizarre, satirical, and savage, its stories focus on writers who are more… Continue reading Blog about a list of films included in Antoine Volodine’s short story “The Theory of Image According to Maria Three-Thirteen”

I saw only one tower standing to the south, and that one ringed with fire | Denis Johnson

At the moment, I was heading anywhere at all for breakfast, but when I heard the desk clerk’s radio playing news that an aircraft, I assumed a sightseeing plane, had struck Tower Two of the World Trade Center, I decided to jump on the number 3 subway half a block west, and go have a… Continue reading I saw only one tower standing to the south, and that one ringed with fire | Denis Johnson

On Ursula K. Le Guin’s Hainish novels

  “Are we not Men?” — The Island of Dr. Moreau, H.G. Wells (1896) “A country, a people…Those are strange and very difficult ideas.” — Four Ways to Forgivenss, Ursula K. Le Guin (1995) —Each of the novels in Ursula K. Le Guin’s so-called Hainish cycle obliquely addresses Wells’s question by tackling those strange and very difficult ideas of “a country,… Continue reading On Ursula K. Le Guin’s Hainish novels