Some More Books I Read Recently

Songy of Paradise by Gary Panter: A comic (and comic) retelling of the Temptation of Christ. “Seems to me like you are trying to sign me up for some macho trip.” The devil’s hapless temptations fail utterly in the face of Songy’s simpleminded skepticism and muleheadedness. I’m sure many of the Christian persuasion would find this blasphemous, but this adaptation (or parody) reveals some kind of truth in this biblical story that always just seemed weird. By doubling (quadrupling?) down on the weirdness, Songy gets at something real. The arts grotesque and pretty fantastic. Dig those dragons.

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin: Like Nabokov’s Bend Sinister, really captures the terror inherent in being a parent. Also, the futility of parental worry in the face of the World. Bleak and post-apocalyptic and spare. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it exactly, but it captures something valuable, I think, some sense of loss and despair and confusion that’s easier for me to read about than to feel myself.

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman: I would have loved this book if I’d read it as a kid. I still enjoyed it as an adult. I ended up reading it because my kid checked it out from the library and I was curious. Full of puzzles and ciphers and mysteries and a love of books. I recommended it to my kid. We’ll see if he reads it.

You & a Bike & a Road by Eleanor Davis: An autobiographical comic about a woman’s bike trip from Texas to Georgia (am I remembering that right?). Almost a meditation on the value of solitude and of setting goals for oneself. It’s a brave and personal book and it made me (slightly) want to get on a bike and go someplace.

Providence: Act 1 by Alan Moore: I think the Lovecraft thing is mostly played out at this point, but this comic manages to evoke a kind of slow-burning dread that pays off in a fairly unexpected crayon drawing. The writing is, unsurprisingly, exceptional and the art is tops. I found the hand-written text pretty painful to read and mostly skimmed through it. Like other works by Moore, he delights in creating primary source documents from the period that he’s writing about. If you’re still down with the Lovecraft thing, I’d recommend it. Otherwise….