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text 2018-09-03 07:18
Returning to a fondly remembered book
Memoirs of an Invisible Man - Harry F. Saint

Tonight after returning bloated from the potluck I attended, I decided to pick up my newly-acquired used copy of H. F. Saint's Memoirs of an Invisible Man. It's a book that I hadn't read in nearly thirty years (!) but i had retained fond memories of from when I had. It didn't take long for me to lose myself in its pages, and as I transitioned from browsing casually to reading in earnest, I found myself asking the question, "How well does it hold up today?"

To my pleasant surprise I found much of what I had liked about the novel still enjoyable. I remember being impressed with how well Saint had puzzled out the complications of someone suddenly discovering that he was invisible, and that element was still every bit as entertaining as it was even after a reread. The challenge facing the narrator from a team led by a supremely competent federal agent was also there and still every bit as gripping, even knowing what the outcome would be. What surprised me, though, was the build-up; I had forgotten that Saint spends nearly a quarter of the book building up to the event that turns his narrator invisible, and the middle of the book is taken up with the initial weeks of him simply working out how to survive.

 

And then I hit the sex scenes. And no. no, no.

 

I remembered that coping with loneliness was one of the central attributes of Saint's narrative, and thus was generally well done. But there are two scenes (I'll leave out the details) where the narrator commits what amounts to sexual assault. I had completely forgotten this part, and rereading the passages was more than a little shocking. It's hard for me to imagine a book like Saint's becoming so popular today with such passages, no matter how well-written it might be.

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review 2018-08-31 14:40
Review - Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art - Scott McCloud

McCloud has done very well with this book.

 

Using the medium of comics, to teach the history, composition, creation, properties and philosophy of comics, is perhaps the only way that these things could actually be taught. McCloud is actually able to demonstrate, right there, what he is discussing.

 

He had a lot to bring to the table, but I'm not sure how much of that is in the version I read; with the original being published in 1994. Approaching sixty years of life, he has spent the majority of that in the world of comics, with a long running relationship with manga also. The art of symbols, language and everything that they became and sometimes decayed into, is summed up here in a book which, I have to admit, got a little heavy for me in places.

 

The representation of himself that McCloud chose to present in the book, would fit with his age at the original writing. I do find myself sitting back and wondering if he would change anything about the wisdom that he presented back then; or whether he reached the pinnacle of his understanding of comics at that point. So many years have passed.

 

I get the impression that he is a man for whom his life and his art, are one in the same; and the wisdom he expressed is from the very early days of the internet, and I find myself wondering if he had a crystal ball...

 

In conclusion, the book does a very good job of deconstructing comic art and bringing an understanding of the mechanics to the reader. It will ensure I take a step back when evaluating a new comic, and I feel like it has opened a door in the artwork, to the mind of the artist beyond. I do wonder about the breadth of audience for this book, however.

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text 2018-08-20 09:12
Reading progress update: I've read 117 out of 224 pages.
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art - Scott McCloud

This book is proving to be absolute genius. What better way to understand comics and the associated art, human and psychological theories, than to use comic art itself.

 

Sadly, it's taking odd pockets of time to get through books these days... like a hotel in Manchester overnight, to attend a headstone dedication the following morning... but I really want to get through this. However, this isn't your average read. It's a case of being fresh enough to be mentally engaged with what it's teaching.

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review 2018-08-18 16:38
The examination of others that leads to the self
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is another title from the list of 100 books compiled for the Great American Read. (Have you voted today?) I feel somewhat chagrined that I had never heard of this classic until I checked out this list. The reader follows a nameless narrator who tells the story of his days in college while living in the South to his move to New York City. As this is set in 1930-40 the racial/social divide is still quite stark even in the North and the author doesn't pull any punches in that regard (i.e. expect violence). The beginning starts out with our narrator underground and in hiding although we have no idea why. In explanation, he weaves a story full of brutality, bigotry, backstabbing, and political machinations. He leaves college and goes to NYC where he is recruited into the Brotherhood which purports to strive for equality among all men regardless of race. Events unfold quickly and he fully believes and embraces the cause. The fomenting of racial riots are underway in Harlem (his district) and at this pivotal moment he is pulled out of his district and sent on another assignment downtown. The reader is kept on their toes and always wondering (as the narrator is) just which side is the "right" side and what is truly motivating the men he has come to trust in this (to him) foreign city. What is the "true" self and how does one embrace it? Invisible Man chews this question over while telling a story of one man coming to terms with the racism (both overt and covert) of society which is told so convincingly that you'll forget it's a work of fiction at times. This is a dense book and took me far longer to read than I expected. Several interesting points were made and quite a few powerful passages but overall it doesn't rate higher than a 6/10 for me.

 

A compelling and thought provoking point:

"For history records the patterns of men's lives, they say: Who slept with whom and with what results; who fought and who won and who lived to lie about it afterwards. ...only those events that the recorder regards as important that are put down, these lies his keepers keep their power by." - pg 439

 

There are quite a few covers but I like this one best.[Source: National Book Foundation]

 

 

What's Up Next: Comics Squad: Recess! by Jennifer L. Holm, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Dan Santat, & Raina Telgemeier

 

What I'm Currently Reading: ???

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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text 2018-06-27 21:27
A masterclass in storytelling
The Heart's Invisible Furies - John Boyne

My first and only previous encounter with John Boyne was the excellent young adult story "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas". So when the opportunity arose and I was gifted early review status on "The Heart's Invisible Furies" I was happy to accept, read and review....and I am so glad I did!. This is a work of great literary intent with bawdy undertones, an easy assimilated tale about the life of Cyril Avery, born out of wedlock and immediately given up for adoption. The story spans a period from the mid 1940's and moves at a ferocious pace up until the present and relayed to the reader in bite size 7 year chunks. Even though the novel stretches to some 600 pages once Boyne grabs your attention from the opening paragraph his colourful and descriptive prose holds you in awe until the final and very fitting conclusion.

 

Adoptive wealthy parents Charles and Maud guide the young Cyril in his early infant years. A childhood friend Julian Woodbead allows Cyril to discover and question his own sexuality. This soon leads to a realization that will form part of his decision making throughout his life. From Dublin to the waterways of Amsterdam, the streets of New York and finally returning to Dublin we travel with Cyril experiencing the good times the bad, the sad, the funny and the indifferent. Boyne explores successfully and with great humour and gusto attitudes of bigotry and tolerance against the background of a god fearing catholic population, an aids frightened society, and a world in panic immediately following the events of 9/11. At times you will want to laugh out loud or perhaps shed a tear. I can honestly say that I have rarely been so moved by a story, the eloquent use of language, and the unveiling and interpretation of the issues raised and debated. Let's enjoy a few moments of the John Boyne magic...... "Cork City itself, a place she had never visited but that her father had always said was filled with gamblers, Protestants and drunkards"........"one man had been accused of exposing himself on the Milltown Road but the charges had been dismissed as the girl had been a Protestant"........"It was 1959, after all. I knew almost nothing of homosexuality, except for the fact that to act on such urges was a criminal act in Ireland that could result in a jail sentence, unless of course you were a priest, in which case it was a perk of the job.".........."Christ alive, said the sergeant, shaking his head in disbelief. I never heard of such a thing. What type of a woman would do something like that?.......The very best type , said Charles."

 

This book to me celebrates the sheer joy of the printed word. Life, love and loss it is all here in a 600 page extraordinary extravaganza! If you love to read and you love books then "The Heart's Invisible Furies" is sheer magic...so buy, cherish and appreciate as you are unlikely to read anything better this year, or possibly any year. A great big thanks to the good people at netgalley for this early opportunity to read and review this masterpiece in return for an honest review and that is what I have written.

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