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review 2018-09-24 21:50
The Invisible Man / H.G. Wells
The Invisible Man - H.G. Wells

This masterpiece of science fiction is the fascinating story of Griffin, a scientist who creates a serum to render himself invisible, and his descent into madness that follows.

 

I read this book to fill the Classic Horror square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

I remember owning the Classics Illustrated comic book of this title as a child and being rather fascinated by the idea of an invisible person. I remember being captivated by Griffin’s fake nose! If I’m remembering correctly, though, I don’t think the violence in the comic was equal to Wells’ original work. It was probably watered down a little to be suitable for a juvenile audience (although nowadays I’m not sure that would be necessary).

I spent a great deal of last year on the cataloguing of a very large collection of books by and about Herbert George Wells and I was interested to read another of his fictional works. I’ll work through more of them as I can. He was an interesting person and a prolific writer.

This is definitely horror-lite. The most horrifying part is actually the behaviour of Griffin, the invisible man of the title. His lack of empathy for his fellow human beings (and the cat that he tests his invisibility device on) is scarier than his actual achievement. During the reading I kept wondering, was he mentally ill and became fixated on this idea or was he fixated on the idea before he became mentally ill? Someone with more empathy could have charted a far different course—co-operating with his fellow beings, rather than trying to terrorize them.

Reminiscent of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, another tale of a scientist making dubious moral choices.

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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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