Monday, August 08, 2022

Reader's Diary #2032- Mansi Shanburg: The Colourful Break-Up

 I loved the voice and dialogue (or rather withheld dialogue) in Mansi Shanburg's flash fiction "The Colourful Break-Up." 

It deals with a woman waiting for her girlfriend to show up, who she suspects (correctly) is planning to break up with her.

However, the narrator finds a way to keep her dignity in this moment, even managing to convince herself somewhat, that this is all ideal.

It's amusing and empowering, even if there's pain below the surface.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Reader's Diary #2031 - Lois Shearing: Bi The Way

I suppose reading two books about bisexuality right after one another, it's only natural to compare them. And to be sure, Lois Shearing's Bi the Way: The Bisexual Guide to Life does have a lot in common with Julia Shaw's Bi: The Hidden Culture, History, and Science of Bisexuality. But just like no two bisexuals are exactly alike, nor are these.

Oddly, it's not that one is a guidebook and the other isn't. In fact, despite the subtitle, I'd hardly classify Lois Shearing's a guidebook at all. I suppose I was disappointed a little in that, but to be fair, it's not like there even could be any firm rules or prescriptions for being bi. Really, there's just a lot of background and context for bi's to consider, much of which is also covered in the aforementioned Shaw book. For instance, I've yet to encounter any unacceptance because I'm very new on the scene, but it was somewhat alarming to hear how many supposed LGBTQ groups aren't actually that accepting of bi people. I will approach cautiously!

My only other issue with Shearing's book is the constant references to what will come in later chapters (ex. "we'll discuss this in more depth in the next chapter"), or once you pass the halfway mark, references to what was already discussed (ex. "as we saw in chapter six). They just became tedious and distracting and I wished an editor had advised just to leave them out altogether. Otherwise, the writing is very accessible, friendly, and well-researched.

Like Shaw's book, it's pretty comprehensive, though I do look forward to reading a bisexuality book written specifically for men. 

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Reader's Diary #2030 - Souvankham Thammavongsa: How to Pronounce Knife

Winner of, and nominated for, a bunch of literary awards, Souvankham Thammavongsa's short story collection How to Pronounce Knife was nowhere near as pretentious as I thought it might be.

It's downright funny at times and always entertaining, even though thematically there's a lot of darkness and pain. There are also these brief, beautifully poignant insights that snuck up on me.

It's mostly about immigrants, or 2nd generation Canadians, from Laos. Those cultural tidbits were fascinating and educational, but I was able to relate to the lower/middle class, blue-collar world. Some of the specifics were different, yet I grew up in that world of hard labour.

My favourite in the collection was "Randy Travis." Trying not to give anything away, never would I have predicted that someone becoming a great singer could be perceived as a tragedy.

Monday, August 01, 2022

Reader's Diary #2029 - Carrie Mackillop: Rainy Wedding

 "Rainy Wedding," by Carrie Mackillop, is a tragic tale, but not as you might expect due to a rained out wedding.

It's about a young dying boy whose mother visits him daily and tells him about a new year in the life he would have led. It's very creative, as is the level of detail the mother puts into her stories. Despite the obviously sad overtones, there's also a certain beauty.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Reader's Diary #2028- Matt Owens (writer) and Juann Cabal (artist): Elektra Always Bet on Red

I like Marvel's Elektra character. Still, I realize she's never exactly been a top-tier character. Getting her own limited series maybe was an attempt to push her more to the spotlight, or perhaps to test the waters if there was a demand. 

I don't know though that Matt Owens' Always Bet on Red made a convincing case. But I'll defend on that front by saying it was a fun series, but I don't think he was given enough access to better characters. 

If Elektra's not top-tier, her adversaries in Always Bet on Red are even less notable: Arcade, with an assist from Screwball. Just the mere mention of these and we know there aren't going to any real stakes. Elektra will escape unscathed and larger ramifications in the Marvel universe will be minimal. (There are suggestions at the end that Arcade was just creating a diversion for Kingpin, a much more impressive villain, and suggesting at least some larger picture, but I wonder if that was enough to make any readers care, coming as it did late into the run and thrown out as too much of an aside.)

Juann Cabal's art is pretty good. I especially liked his play with action across multiple panels.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Reader's Diary #2027 - Julia Shaw: Bi / The Hidden Culture, History, and Science of Bisexuality

I cannot praise Julia Shaw's Bi: The Hidden Culture, History, and Science of Bisexuality enough. It's well-researched, comprehensive, and yet told in a friendly, accessible way. I learned a great deal.

Covering a swath of bi topics from history, being closeted, bi erasure, political considerations, various forms of bisexual love, and more, it's a proud, inspiring, and thorough read. 

Her writing takes the stance that bi, is attraction (which has forms in and of itself) to the same and other genders (sort of how I view pansexuality and would probably use interchangeably, unless corrected otherwise). 

Perhaps more importantly, she dispels various myths about bisexuality by acknowledging there are many differences even within that community, but accepts and welcomes them all in a spirit of strength in numbers and ally-ship. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Reader's Diary #2026 - Mike Johnson (writer), Angel Hernandez (artist): Star Trek Green Lantern / The Spectrum War

While I'm a bit of a sucker for crossover comics, alas the silliness of the whole Green Lantern premise sabotaged my ability to enjoy the Star Trek/ Green Lantern crossover, The Spectrum War

It also didn't help that it was WAY too busy. All the Star Trek characters (from the Chris Pine as Captain Kirk era), including their rogues gallery, and all the Green Lantern characters, including their rogues gallery, was just simply too much. The story quickly became a convoluted mess.

Angel Hernandez's art is serviceable (I mean it looked like Chris Pine), but unfortunately he wasn't able to reign in any of the madness that was the story and the panels too became busy and overwhelming.