Thursday, February 14, 2019

Reader's Diary #2006- Ben Rankel: Frank

Ben Rankel's Frank is a graphic novel, historical fiction account of a bit of Albertan history previously unknown to me. Frank doesn't refer to a person but rather a town that was all but wiped out in 1903 under the deadliest rock slide in Canadian history.

Rather than simply tell that tale however, Rankel adds in a bit of a murder mystery. I admire the ambition and creativity behind it, but I wasn't crazy about the execution which relied on somewhat clumsy exposition near the end. I did enjoy the complex characters though.

The art is highly stylized in a trendy, quirky style, that reminded me both of Herge's Tintin and Alexander Forbes' The Case of the Missing Men. It's not a style that I'm particularly drawn to but I do feel the vintage feel fit the setting.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Reader's Diary #2005- Gertrude Stein: The Gentle Lena

I was not expecting Gertrude Stein's short story "the Gentle Lena" to be so... odd. And it's odd for a bunch of ways. There's her penchant for adjectives, and in particular "german" as a descriptor, which I was never sure how to interpret, what I was suppose to denote. There was the constant repetition. There was the cynicism.

I found it all, to be honest, relentlessly and almost unbearably stifling. I suppose this may have been how the titular Lena was supposed to feel?

It's not entirely uninteresting and I suppose it captured well the pressure and insistence on marriage as a cultural norm back in the day. But holy hell, it was a slog.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Reader's Diary #2004- Agatha Christie: The Mousetrap

What a fun play!

I've never seen an adaptation of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this whodunnit. The characters themselves are varied, interesting (a gay character in 1954?!), and sometimes funny, but no one seemed to be having as much fun as Christie herself who seemed to delight in dishing out clues and false clues to toy with the audience.

I was pleasantly surprised to figure out the culprit on my own but not overly proud as I suspected everyone at some point. 

Monday, February 04, 2019

Reader's Diary #2003- Melanie Harding-Shaw: Big Brother

We've definitely come a long way with mental illness and no doubt a large part of that is the encouragement of folks to talk about their own struggles. This, we know, helps lessens the stigma. But what if people were forced to open up?

Melanie Harding-Shaw's flash fiction "Big Brother" hints at such a scenario as we encounter a new mother wearing a flashing emotion-monitor on her wrist. On the surface, it could be taken as a hopeful story as we may believe the mother, and her baby, will get help and the risks to both will be minimized. However the title and final sentence suggest that maybe the pendulum has swung too far.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Reader's Diary #2002- Mary Robinette Kowal: Evil Robot Monkey

I kind of love Mary Robinette Kowal's short story "Evil Robot Monkey" as it presents a bit of a twist from the Planet of the Apes scenario in which intelligent apes behave like humans. The chimp in this story has indeed undergone a procedure to increase his intelligence, but he ain't no human. This puts him in a bit of a no man's land between the two species and therefore quite a compelling story. There's even a bit of a friendship angle that's expertly developed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Reader's Diary #2001- William Shakespeare (writer), Julien Choy (art): Macbeth

Graphic novel adaptations of scripts seems like a match made in heaven. The dialogue is already there and the artist gets to create visuals that arguably couldn't even be accomplished on a stage.

For a Shakespeare adaptation that lends itself to adaptation that is likely better understood by readers. In this case the original and full text of Shakespeare is kept in tact, so I still wouldn't suggest it's easy, but the visuals by Julien Chan certainly help clarify much of what is going on. I cannot say that I was particularly fond of the character looks and skilled actors would certainly be better adept at conveying emotion, but I did quite like the backgrounds and scenes where metaphorical elements and allusions were drawn out.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Reader's Diary #2001- Matt Blackwood: Blink

Matt Blackwood's short story "Blink" deals with a reporter covering a protest and while it's an intense, fast scene, there's still time for him to have a bit of an existential, professional crisis. He's reflecting on what got him into the profession, the ethics, and then he has an epiphany which guides his next move.

Not being a reporter I cannot state whether or not it's an accurate reflection of the career, but it certainly felt real and of course, many of us even in other professions go through such doubts and moments of reflection.

It's a powerful, smartly paced piece.