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review 2016-10-30 21:42
Goth Girl Has a Heart & Fanboy Has a Name!
Goth Girl Rising - Barry Lyga



I started this book right after finishing the first, so I guess Barry Lyga did something right!  This one starts six months after the end of the previous installment.  Kyra "Goth Girl" Sellers is back after her stay in a psych ward (where her father had sent her, afraid she was going to make her second suicide attempt).  One of the first things Kyra wants to do is to check on Fanboy to make sure he's okay, but she is soon angry to discover he's somehow too okay.  Suddenly, he's popular!  He's been serializing his graphic novel Schemata in the school's literary magazine, and his classmates are loving it.  This makes Kyra feel that he forgot all about her--out of sight, out of mind--and she becomes focused on "revenge."


For much of the narrative, I found myself hating Kyra and, in my head, yelling at her just to have a damn conversation with Fanboy.  Instead of making a chain of assumptions.  But she has to go through a certain journey before she can get there, and I find myself pulling for her to get through all that, because I can see her potential under the rage and lousy attitude.


This book has the sort of short chapters that propel a reader forward.  I'd find myself thinking, "Just one more chapter," because the chapter were often around 2.5 chapters.  I stayed up way too late a couple of nights reading this.  (And as indicated in the title, Fanboy's name finally gets revealed.)  I was pleased, for the most part, with the way this book resolved itself; however I kind of wish there were just a few more chapters.


As a side note, I will just point out that Kyra does not quite understand lucid dreams, and I'm not sure if the author intended this, or whether he himself shares that misunderstanding.  There is one chapter where Kyra describes a lucid dream, and she notes that in a lucid dream--which is one where the dreamer is aware of dreaming--it is possible to take control of the dream or just let it unfold.  But then there are things that happen in the dream that Kyra doesn't expect or necessarily want, and she questions whether she actually does want them--because it's a lucid dream, so she must be controlling what happens.  Only that's not true.  Having a lucid dream and taking control in the dream are two separate things.  The moment you know you're dreaming, you are lucid.  But taking control takes certain decisions within your dream world, and it's actually something that may take practice.  In case anyone is interested, there are websites devoted to explaining how to develop these skills.  (Huge digression over.)


I didn't touch on this with the first book, but I'm not sure why Fanboy is apparently the last person in the world who still uses dial-up and doesn't have a cell phone.

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review 2016-10-28 02:50
Fanboy & Goth Girl
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl - Barry Lyga,Scott Brick

It took me some time to warm up to this book, but I got there.  This was almost a four-star read for me, except I found the end too open.  Yes, I was aware that there is a sequel (which I've started to read), but it's still possible to have some internal closure while still leaving more story to tell.  Okay, I guess in some ways there were, but the end was quite cliffhangery.


"Fanboy" is the name our narrator gets from the "Goth Girl," Kyra.  He's 15 years old, and convinced he's got one of the worst lives ever because he's nerdy, the jocks tend to enjoy tormenting him, and his parents are divorced.  But he's secretly working on a graphic novel* called Schemata, and he's sure that once he shows his sample pages to Brian Michael Bendis** at a nearby comic convention, he'll be on his way to a brilliant future taking the comics world by storm.


Without going into spoilers, I will just say that our Fanboy is more than a little naive about how one breaks into the world of graphic-novel success.  Oddly, we never learn his name.  Early on, I found myself annoyed by his unrelenting negativity, and lovely things like referring to his stepfather as "the stepfascist" and the obvious disgust he felt about the fact that his mother is pregnant.  He carries a bullet that he lifted from his "stepfascist," and I swear it's like this book's equivalent of the stupid unlit cigarette Gus from The Fault in Our Stars insists on having.  But there is growth and change!  Yay.


*Memo to Fanboy:  a graphic novel is a comic book, but not all comic books are graphic novels.  (He will "correct" anyone who refers to his graphic novel as a comic book.)


**I didn't realize until after I was done and looking at the author's webpage that Bendis is a real-life comics guy.  D'oh.


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text 2016-10-16 15:29
Reading progress update: I've read 24%.
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl - Barry Lyga,Scott Brick

I downloaded the Kindle version of this book from my library's e-collection, so that if I space out while listening to the audiobook, or my player glitches on me, I can review or fill in.  So I can confidently report that I am now 24% into this book.  I guess it's growing on me, now that the Goth Girl has appeared.  I realize now that I mistook "Goddess" Dina from chapter one as the Goth Girl.  Never mind.  She's just a random object of protagonist leering.  Hopefully he will chill on that a bit.  The Goth Girl, Kyra, could be an interesting character.

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text 2016-10-14 03:12
Reading progress update: I've read 10%.
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl - Barry Lyga,Scott Brick

Percentage is a rough estimate.  I'm about an hour in to the 9 hours and 58 minutes of this audio.  So far?  I'm not loving the protagonist.  I can sympathize with an underdog character, but he's just so bitter and hate-filled.  And the male gaze is strong from this one.  The "goth girl" is the "goddess" he loves to admire/ogle.  He enjoys looking up the skirt of the girl who sits across from him in English class.  But it's early.  I guess there's hope.

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review 2016-07-27 14:03
'Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs' by Chuck Klosterman
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto - Chuck Klosterman

Chuck Klosterman is a clever guy. That much I can say unequivocally, everything else is up in the air.


Here is the thing. Mr. Klosterman is willing to take on some weird questions    How is Pamela Anderson a reflection of our changing attitudes about sex? How has The Real World changed how Americans view themselves? Can you write 6,000 words about Saved By the Bell?     and it is mostly fun to watch him consider these things. But if I sound underwhelmed it is probably because my expectations were high. This looked like a perfect match, the idea of Mr. Klosterman seemed directly in my wheelhouse. I have been told I look like the guy and I probably write like him a little too . I read an essay he wrote about an unofficial goth day at Disneyland and laughed, but Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs felt just a little flat to me.



Mr. Klosterman worries in the introduction that all the work will become immediately dated by the pop culture references, which will probably happen unless Saved By the Bell enjoys a major comeback, but what looms most now is the rise of the think piece. He may have been groundbreaking at the time, admitting how he watches the Pam Anderson/Tommy Lee sex tape    but not that he derives anything but intellectual stimulation from it     and writing about TV shows through a strange and personal lens, but everyone is doing that now. Kanye West doesn't change T-shirts without a dozen blogs ruminating on what it means that a rap atrist wears $120 cotton tees. It is hard to come at Mr. Klosterman with fresh eyes after 10 years of the 24-hour churn cycle.


What got me, however, is that the questions were generally the most interesting parts of the essays. As he got into the weeds he either digressed or stopped making sense. In fact, here is the one most interesting passage in the book:

...When discussing any given issue, always do three things. First make an intellectual concession (this makes the listener fell comfortable ). Next make a completely incomprehensible  but remarkably specific— "cultural accusation" (this makes you insightful). Finally, end the dialogue by interjecting slang lexicon that does not necessarily exist (this makes you contemporary). 


He follows with some examples. These are his tips for being — or at least projecting yourself as — interesting in conversation, but they might be his tips for writing too. While I probably can't find a statement that exactly fits the formula, it is definitely the recipe for this whole book, a swirl of unexpected conclusions from very specific pop references, self-deprecation and a fresh turn of phrase for garnish.


That realization might have been fatal if I didn't think he realized that himself. Like how Mr. Klosterman enjoys tweaking the very people he knows are his probable readers. He is clever enough to see these features in himself but being meta isn't the same as being good. At parts Cocoa Puffs felt like that first day at college where some professor blows your mind by suggesting there is no such thing as truth, or that porn makes no sense because there is nothing pleasurable to a woman about licking her own tit, but he doesn't want to really get at the answers. The answers are boring and technical and we were having a lot of fun just watching Tommy Lee steer a boat with his dick together and all the ways that is weird. So maybe it is just me, maybe I ruined Chuck Klosterman. 

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