Thursday, March 30, 2023

Reader's Diary #2081 - Antonio Iturbe, Salva Rubio (writers), Loreto Aroca (artist): The Librarian of Auschwitz


Based on a novel of the same name, which was in turn based upon a real-life Auschwitz librarian, this graphic novel largely didn't feel like an adaptation. That said, I didn't read the novel, so it would be hard to compare. I imagine that some scenes would have been more elaborated on in an novel, and probably elicited more of an emotional response. Then again, pictures can evoke an emotional wallop as well so it's not like the comic was lacking.

Besides the obvious takeaways from the book about racism, homophobia, genocide, it also spoke to me as a librarian and really struck a chord about why libraries are so important, even in a place like Auschwitz where one might be inclined to think books would not be a high priority. Or stories themselves. I loved, for instance, that they acknowledged people as human books (not a modern idea) which in itself speaks of the loss the Nazis inflicted on the world.

The art was good, in a very familiar style I see among young adult comics, and colouring which fit the mood.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Reader's Diary #2080 - Jill Kelley: The Epiphany

 Not surprising with a title like "The Epiphany" that Jill Kelley's short story has the feel of a parable.

It involves a woman climbing stairs while reflecting upon all the good and bad life has brought and what it all means, where it all leads. That's interesting enough, but then there was a reference to King Solomon's vanities at the end that I'd forgotten and needed to look up. 

Anyway, it's one of those things that should be depressing, but when I'm in the headspace I am today, the idea that everything could be meaningless is actually a very freeing thought.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Reader's Diary #2079 - Lore Segal: Around the Corner You Can't See Around

Lately I've been really turned off from really inauthentic dialogue. Sometimes it's overly quirky with no straight character to balance it out (see the Fabelmans), other times it's overly pretentious, such as in Lore Segal's "Around the Corner You Can't See Around."

It reminded me of those scenes in the Cosby Show when Claire and her college professor/friend would suddenly quote long lines of Shakespeare. Do people actually sit around and do this? I consider myself fairly well-educated and I've never encountered it. And am pretty sure I have no interest.


Monday, March 13, 2023

Reader's Diary #2078 - Paul v Walters: Heartbreak

Sometimes I'll read a short story that leaves me wanting more and often it's because those stories felt incomplete. That's not the case with Paul v Walters' "Heartbreak" which works thoroughly as a story about a reunion of a somewhat toxic relationship.

But that relationship seems so compelling, the characters hint at just enough depth, that I'd read a whole novel about them.

Monday, March 06, 2023

Reader's Diary #2077 - Alan Grayce: A Delivery of Cheesesteaks

"A Delivery of Cheesesteaks" by Alan Grayce is one of those sci-fi stories where I think the story would have been better served without the sci-fi elements. 

About a homeless veteran who becomes a hero, the sci-fi elements felt tacked on to me, like an afterthought to ensure publication. The homeless guy was great though!

Thursday, March 02, 2023

Reader's Diary #2076 - Charles Johnson: All Your Racial Problems Will Soon End

Probably a whole slew of reasons why Charles Johnson's cartoons escaped my radar until now, but I'm grateful they finally did. 

There are political cartoons and there are satirical political cartoons, the latter, if done right, are also funny. Johnson's cartoons are funny. Broken up into specific collection, Johnson offers short introductions to each and in one of these he considers whether or not a cartoon can considered a visual poem. He concludes, "Like the best haiku, where a thought or feeling is perfectly expressed in just a few lines and is instantly understood, a well-done cartoon can often lead to an epiphany or 'Aha!' moment of laughter and sudden insight into a subject." Indeed, Johnson's cartoons are visual poems.

They are a product of their time, of course, and most come from the 60's and 70's. The style reflects that (which I loved) and there are many, many references to politics at the time (Black Panthers feature heavily). Yet, for better or worse, many of the themes and insights still resonate today.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Reader's Diary #2075 - Anthony Varallo: Dispatches from a Housesitter

When a short story, such as Anthony Varallo's "Dispatches from a Housesitter" ends abruptly, especially if I've been enjoying it up to that point, I find myself wondering if missed something or if the author had an intent in mind.

The description and voice in this story are superb. As for the point? I'm wondering if I'm supposed to see a parallel between the narrator and the dog he's taking care of...