Matinee — Jonathan Wateridge

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Matinee, 2011 by Jonathan Wateridge (b. 1972)

Parson Weems’ Fable — Grant Wood

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Parson Weems’ Fable, 1939 by Grant Wood (1891–1942)

The Centurion’s Servant — Stanley Spencer

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The Centurion’s Servant, 1914 by Stanley Spencer (1891–1959)

Two by Dmitry Samarov (Books acquired 7 Feb. 2020)

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Copies of Dmitry Samarov’s latest books, Soviet Stamps and Music to My Eyes showed up at Biblioklept World Headquarters the other week. I started in on Music to My Eyes, a kind of fragmentary memoir told in sketches (both verbal and literal) of the Chicago music scene. The determiner “the” in the previous sentence is wrong, of course, as is the singular noun “scene” — Samarov’s book shows the diversity of the city’s music, even if fans will be able to connect the dots between bands like Eleventh Dream Day, Mekons, and Brokeback. There are stories that float around Nick Cave, Arto Lindsay, Neko Case, and many, many others. Samarov’s brief chapter on the Silver Jews ends with an anecdote about not getting to meet Berman in 2018. The final lines are heartbreaking: “Maybe there’ll be more songs. Then I could stop being mad at him for walking away too soon.”

Here’s Samarov on U.S. Maple, who made some of the strangest music ever during that weird slice of time from the mid-nineties to the mid-aughts. U.S. Maple is by far the most confounding live band I’ve ever seen; it’s easy to throw around the word deconstruction, but their live performances were deconstructions of rocknroll:

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Read my 2012 interview with Dmitry Samarov.

East Village Apartment II — Salman Toor

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East Village Apartment II, 2017 by Salman Toor (b. 1983)

Lover’s Leap — Kyle Dunn

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Lover’s Leap, 2019 by Kyle Dunn (b. 1990)

The Seeress of Prevorst — Gabriel von Max

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The Seeress of Prevorst, 1892 by Gabriel von Max (1840-1915)

Annunciation — Gely Korzhev

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Annunciation, 1997 by Gely Korzhev (1925-2012)

My Parents — David Hockney

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My Parents, 1977 by David Hockney (b. 1937)

Prospectors — Nigel Cooke

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Prospectors, 2013 by Nigel Cooke (b. 1973)

Anasazi (Beautiful and bewildering graphic novel told in its own glyphic language, acquired 6 Feb. 2019)

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A week or so ago, Mike McCubbins offered me a review copy of Anasazi, the graphic novel that he made with Matt Bryan. He sent a link to the Anasazi’s Kickstarter page. I skimmed over the art, was impressed and immediately interested, and then read their blurb:

Anasazi is a nearly wordless 212 page, 8″ x 8.5″ full-color cloth-bound graphic novel. Its a story of war, assimilation, and cultural divisions on a colorful alien planet that combines elements of science fiction, fantasy, mythology, world history, and horror.

…16 chapters. 16 words.  There is no English dialogue or exposition in Anasazi. Instead each chapter heading contains an alien language glyph along with a non-English word or phrase meaning and its literal English translation. These glyphs then appear as dialogue throughout the story.

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The art, overview, and the concept of a story told in glyphs intrigued me, and I trusted my intuition not to read the brief “What’s the story?” section of Anasazi until after I’d read the novel. I read it twice; once the night it showed up, and then again the next morning. The story synopsis (three short sentences) hardly spoils the narrative, but it offers enough context for anyone wholly lost to find their footing.

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The joy of Anasazi is sinking into its rich, alien world, sussing out meaning from image, color, and glyphs. The novel has its own grammar. Bryan and McCubbins conjure a world reminiscent of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Martian novels, Charles Burns’ Last Look trilogy, Kipling’s Mowgli stories, as well as the fantasies of Jean Giraud.

The sixteen English words in Anasazi are all chapter names, and all are loan words, as the novel’s title suggests. Some (“M’Aidez,” “Sheol,” “Melaina Chole”) were more familiar to me than others (“Zinduka,” “Gweilo,” “Shuv”), and all take on a strange tone in the novel, as if the glyphs the characters speak are rough transliterations of something far more refined than our alien ears could comprehend.

I really enjoyed Anasazi, and I aim to have a full review soon. But I plan to read it a few more times first.

 

Burial — Eduardo Berliner

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Burial, 2009 by Eduardo Berliner (b. 1978)

Conversation — Tim Eitel

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Conversation, 2018 by Tim Eitel (b. 1971)

From Narcissus to Icarus (After Déjeuner sur l’herbe) — Raqib Shaw

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From Narcissus to Icarus (After Déjeuner sur l’herbe), 2019 by Raqib Shaw (b. 1974)

Buggin — Michaël Borremans

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Buggin, 2017 by Michaël Borremans (b. 1963)

Book Painting No. 6 — Liu Ye

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Book Painting No. 6, 2015 by Liu Ye (b. 1964)

She Has Funny Cars — Tomasz Kowalski

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She Has Funny Cars, 2018 by Tomasz Kowalski (b. 1984)