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.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Reader's Diary #3003 - Edward Ross: Gamish/ A Graphic History of Gaming

Not much of a gamer myself (like most kids from my generation I was into Super Mario Brothers, my wife and I still play Dr. Mario after suppers as a sort of routine, and I dabble with simple game apps now and then, but that's it), I wasn't sure how into Edward Ross's Gamish: A Graphic History of Gaming I'd be. However, I've read nonfiction books on other topics I'd only had a passing interest in before, and like the better ones (Salt by Mark Kurlansky, for example), Ross's book also won me over.

Gamish is very well researched and it's amazing how much he fits into a mere 200 pages, most of which are drawn. All without making the book come across as a simple listing of facts. He traces the history of gaming, from the very idea of play, board games, to the present day of video games. He gets into the psychology, art, and science of it all. All while he's clearly a gamer himself and enthusiastic about the medium, he doesn't shy away from controversial topics like addiction, violence, racism, and misogyny, offering a very fair balance and perspective. I was never bored for a minute.

The art is easily accessible and uses fantasy to compliment the theme and drive certain points home. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Reader's Diary #3002 - Ruth Rendell: Never Sleep in a Bed Facing a Mirror

I've read similar flash fiction to Ruth Rendell's flash fiction "Never Sleep in a Bed Facing a Mirror" but that doesn't mean I like it any less.

The dark, about to fall asleep and put yourself in such a vulnerable state, it's the perfect setting for a horror story. All the better if you can get to the good scares efficiently. 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Reader's Diary #3001 - Elliott Holt: Picnic, Lightning

 Haven't read a good Oulipo story in a while, but I'm a firm believer that creativity thrives where there's oppression, even if the rules are arbitrary. I won't say the rule is is Elliott Holt's "Picnic, Lightning" as it's more fun to figure it out on your own.

The story isn't so much set at a picnic, but rather an outdoor venue following a concert. An unexpected rainstorm has rolled in and people rush to clear out much faster than perhaps they would have otherwise. "Picnic, Lightning" is superbly paced mirroring the sense of urgency.

Friday, April 08, 2022

Reader's Diary #3000 - Mark Verheiden (writer), John Bolton (artist): The Evil Dead

It wasn't actually that long ago that I saw The Evil Dead for the first time. I liked it enough, as well as the remake, so a comic based on the movie seemed like a easy win. 

But it was basically the exact same story. Supposedly there are a few scenes added in here or there, but I hardly noticed. They certainly don't add anything. 

As for the art? According to Mark Verheiden he was super pleased with John Bolton's art because he wanted something that looked like the movie. I guess that's true, but it's painted like it was run through one of those apps that "make your portrait look like a work of art." And if I just wanted a rehash of the movie, I'd re-watch the movie. 

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Reader's Diary #2299- Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray (writers), Eduardo Pansica and Julio Ferreira (artists): Luke Fox Batwing

Always interested in reading about a new superhero, Luke Fox's Batwing character has underwhelmed me as of yet. I haven't completely written him off, but it'll probably take a different writing team to convince me to try his comics again.

For the unfamiliar, Batman has essentially franchised out his image and technology, and entrusted a young black man named Luke Fox (who's also the son of Wayne Enterprise manager, Lucius Fox- though he's unaware of his son's new role). Batwing's suit, I'll give him, is actually cooler than Batman's and it puts him more in the league of say Iron Man or Black Panther. 

So there's some family drama which should make it interesting, but it doesn't pay off much in this collection. As for the superheroics, it's all pretty much a by the numbers bunch of stories, complete with average art and a smattering of jokes that don't land.

I also can't help but wonder if the character wouldn't be more interesting if he broke off from Batman and Gotham altogether, reworked the suit into a whole new bat-less identity. Then, I've never been much of a Batman fan.

Monday, April 04, 2022

Reader's Diary #2298 - Kelly Pells: A Short Story for Spring

 We finally hit positive temperatures again today. And while there's still a ton of snow around, a far cry from the spring described in Kelly Pells' "A Short Story for Spring," the happy, optimistic mood she captures is just the same.

In this story a woman has returned home and awakes, momentarily forgetting where she is, but upon realizing it, takes the pleasant spring weather to revisit a place outside that was her childhood refuge. I have such a place and can relate entirely. For now, the chaotic world is on pause.

Friday, April 01, 2022

Reader's Diary #2297 - Joe Hill: The Black Phone Stories

Originally published as 20th Century Ghosts, this collection of mostly horror stories from Joe Hill was renamed The Black Phone Stories to promote the upcoming movie starring Ethan Hawke. The marketing must have worked as that's totally why I picked it up. 

I'm left a little anxious about the film though. The story is super short, and while I quite enjoyed it, there's definitely not enough there for a whole movie. And if cinematic adaptations of Stephen King's (Joe Hill's father) short stories has taught us anything, it's that the likelihood of pulling it off is at best a crap shoot.

Anyway, speaking of King, I'm sure Joe Hill must hate comparisons to his father but honestly I think I'd be making them for this book even if the two authors were completely unrelated. Hill captures the same great qualities that I love about King's better books and short stories: grounded, realistic characters, great atmosphere and build-up, slight doses of nostalgia, and of course a whole lot of dark imagination. As in most collections, some stories are better than others. Some feel undercooked, etc. However, the majority here are gems.

So, even if the movie doesn't wind up working, the book is worth it.