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Friday, May 20, 2022

Reader's Diary #3010- Neil Gaiman (writer), Colleen Doran (artist): Chivalry

While Neil Gaiman can often bring the dark, Chivalry brings the charm. 

A short story adapted into a comic by Colleen Doran, Chivalry follows an elderly British widow who buys the Holy Grail at a second hand store because she thinks it'll look nice on her mantle. 

Before long, however, a knight, straight from the days and legends of King Arthur, visits and hopes to convince the woman to give it to him. The relationship they build is sweet and gentle, like a grandmother and adult grandson, and the absurdity of the situation is never treated as such. 

Managing to embrace both the warmth of the story as well as the British fantasy/folklore vibe, Colleen Doran's detailed watercolours are stellar.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Reader's Diary #3009 - Nellie P. Strowbridge: Catherine Snow

It took me a very long time to adjust to Nellie P. Strowbridge's historical novel Catherine Snow: A Novel of the Last Woman Hanged in Newfoundland

Definitely having done her research, she uses a lot of the terminology and vocabulary that would have been used in early 1800's Newfoundland. On top of that, Strowbridge writes very descriptively. The combination therefore prevents it from being a quick read. Not that a novel should be a quick read, of course, but as I said, I had to get used to it.

Given the subtitle, one would be wise not to expect the happiest of novels. And full of misery it is. With the exception of loving her children, Catherine wasn't shown to have the greatest of lives. It's doubtful many women in Newfoundland at that time lived the most privileged of lives. It was a lot of hard labour in a very sexist, misogynistic society. Still Catherine's lot takes an even more unfortunate turn than most.

Trying not to give too much away, Strowbridge takes that angle that Catherine was hanged as an innocent. Possibly. It is very evident that she wasn't represented well in court and wasn't given a fair trial. Does that mean she was actually innocent? Maybe, maybe not. Undoubtedly it was a tragedy. 


Monday, May 16, 2022

Reader's Diary #3008 - Kathy Fish: Today When I Asked You About a Couple We Knew in Canberra

 Sometimes when I can't get to sleep I'll try to remember the names of everyone I've ever met. A quick Google search tells me that estimates of the number of people the average person meets in life is anywhere between 10,000 to 80,000. It's shocking how many people we forget.

In Kathy Fish's "Today When I Asked You About a Couple We Knew in Canberra" the narrator is struggling to recall the names of the titular characters. Directed at me the reader, taking on the role of her husband, I'm of no help.

Finally it clicks into place and their names unlock even more memories of them. It ends on a lovely image that I wonder if we're suppose to compare to ourselves as a couple. In any case, it's a nice domestic story.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Reader's Diary #3007 - Jeff Lemire (writer), Greg Smallwood (artist): Moon Knight


Of all the new Marvel shows on Disney+, I feel Moon Knight garnered the most mixed reviews. Despite having some of the best acting the MCU has seen courtesy of Oscar Isaac, it seems that a lot of people just didn't get it. It was a lot to take in, I admit, but I loved it.

I'd read a collection of Moon Knight comics before but wasn't wild about it. Not surprisingly, given I'm a huge fan of Jeff Lemire, I loved this one. It's also, for what it's worth, much more aligned with what Marvel Studios did with the TV show. 

There's always a mystery about Moon Knight: who is he and what the hell is going on? But more confusingly (and more interestingly in my opinion), just as you start to put the puzzle pieces together, you start to realize that some of the pieces belong to another puzzle. And another puzzle. And another?!

Still, even if you don't figure it all out, it's fun. More importantly, and here's where Lemire's character building skills come in, we need to sense that however much fun it is for us, it's equally if not more frustrating for the character. You need to feel for him.

Complementing Lemire's emotional and action-packed story is beautiful art by Greg Smallwood and others who totally capture the madness and varying characters.

Monday, May 09, 2022

Reader's Diary #3006 - Eli Hastings: The Cell I'm In

 There's a lot of punch in the very brief story "The Cell I'm In" by Eli Hastings. It's from the perspective of a high school kid who's in a jail cell, detailing how he got there. It involves his close friend, who was a victim of bullying for being gay.

The voice is raw and emotional and it would be a great story to discuss with a group. Especially the ending. Among the many themes, I would say the idea that people fight back against their bullies, and the front the bullied are expected to put up, will be the ones that resonate with me.

Monday, May 02, 2022

Reader's Diary #3005 - Tananarive Due: Like Daughter

 I'm sure we've all that those childhood friends whose lots in life were shittier than our own (perhaps some were blessed were better ones as well, but those are the focus here). There's a lot to be explored here from a thematic point of view and in Tananarive Due's short story "Like Daughter" she does just that. 

Having been made godmother of her friend's child, she's now been asked to take over guardianship as her friend isn't doing particularly well. There's a lot of responsibility and guilt that come into play. There's also a lot of heavy themes of the cyclical nature of parenting. All of this is great.

My one quibble is with the sci-fi element. Her friend's daughter is a clone, so she sort of feels like she's about to start raising her friend. It just didn't feel necessary except that the story was rewritten to get published on a sci-fi site.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Reader's Diary #3004 - Gustavo Bondoni: Class Warfare

 "Class Warfare" by Gustavo Bondoni is a fun story about a wealthy man named Jean-Pierre Dimarche who's in an island home invaded by kidnappers.

For someone in what most of us would consider an insanely stressful situation, he seems remarkably chill. Yet, Bondoni's approach is balanced so that we're not entirely rooting for this guy either. He has about as much a reaction to his security guards being shot as he does as an expensive door being axed down.

Still it's delightfully dark and twisty.