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    Book Club in a Bag

    The Light and the Heavy… of Comics

    by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

    Think a comic doesn’t have the weight to deal with some heavy issues? Carry the idea that comics are just for boys and never deal with relationships? In fact it can be a light way to highlight and inform you without weighing you down and turning you off. They might even make you laugh… and cry and want to throw the book across the room. (We here at the library do NOT advocate this action, just saying).

    Try these on for size:

    Fat Free by Jude Miller & Illustrated by Mary Wilshire – “The Amazing All True Adventures of Supersize Woman! “ Memoir of one woman’s journey to self-esteem and fat acceptance and fitness. This book probes cultural questions and doesn’t hide truths or contradictions nor promote the fat phobia that is so pervasive in our culture. For instance, the story shows how we can often help others when we still need help ourselves and that often we can change our mind and redefine what recovery and health are as we go along.

    Yakuza Moon by Shoko Tendo (adapted Sean Michael Wilson by illustrated by Michiru Morikawa). The true memoirs of a gangster's daughter illustrates how significant rites of passage, such as getting a full body tattoo, can empower us to make life altering positive changes in our lives. As well as being a gripping fast-paced read this story shows human strength of spirit and honesty. Shoko says that “Getting tattooed, from the base of her neck to the tips of her toes, with a design centered on a geisha with a dagger in her mouth, was an act that empowered her to start making changes in her life. She quit her job as a hostess. On her last day at the bar she looked up at the full moon, a sight she never forgot. The moon became a symbol of her struggle to become whole, and the title of the book is an epitaph for herself and her family.” Tendo has also written a full length memoir continuing the story of her recovery on to include the birth of her daughter.

    Dragonslippers (This is What an Abusive Relationship Looks Like) by Rosalind Penfold. This graphic novel is actually pretty accurate in depicting how twisted emotional manipulation can be. No surprise since it’s actually Penfold’s memoir and based on her real life. If you’ve ever wondered or had a friend in this situation I would highly recommend this book but it DOES come with a trigger warning. On the plus side it also shows how Penfold managed to leave and recover.

    And on the lighter but no less relevant side:

    The Cute Girl Network by Greg Means/MK Reed and illustrated by Joe Flood. A fun book about 20-somethings, dating and following your own impressions of people rather than stereotypes, gossip and peer pressure.

    My Most Secret Desire by Julie Doucet. Julie is the queen hipster girl from Montreal who originally got me into comic books… way back in art school, perhaps actually because she writes about being in art school. Dark and funny, this lady pulls no punches in detailing her life as a punk growing up in Montreal through art school and various boyfriends. I briefly forgot that Doucet first converted me to comics years ago with HER tales of adventures and misadventures. It’s been an on again off again relationship. ;)

    Edmund and Rosemary Go To Hell by Bruce Eric Kaplan. Last but not least this comic is a fun, uplifting, simple fast read. It is satirical take on modern living, our search for meaning and a journey into appreciating the good things we have in life.

    For more great comic books check out my previous posts Great graphix: Not Your run of the Mill cominc Books and Words in Beige.

    Words In Beige

    by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

    Though there are many graphic novels and books in our collection that bear beige covers I thought I would highlight a few of our gems. Why beige? Isn’t beige boring, un-flavourful and well, um … boring? Well, for the sake of neutrality I will write, you can read; and draw your own conclusions.

    Unspent Love, or Things I wish I told You by Shannon Gerard. Poignant moments of longing, regret, reflection and joy in regards to love illustrated with sparse prose. The images don’t necessarily match the text which gives space for untold ambiguities and contradictions to exist, like they do in life. This technique lends a richness and depth to what in essence are very short clips of lives.

    Let That Bad Air Out - Buddy Bolden’s Last Parade: a Novel In Linocut by Stefan Berg. Would you explain Jazz with words or without?? Well Berg has chosen the silent but strong approach in his Porcupine Quill Publication. PQ press has also publish several beige covered graphic novels done in linocut including George A. Walker’s The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson and Book of Hours : a Wordless Novel Told in 99 Wood Engravings, which was reviewed in a previous post. They come equipped with short introductions which you can read to enhance your viewing experience, though I find it fun to see what I can glean from just reading the pictures first and then going back and “seeing if I’m right” by reading the introduction last…

    An Invisible Flower by Yoko Ono is a poetry book also covered in beige with very sparse words accompanied by rich, scrawly drawings done in charcoal and chalk pastel. Like a homemade art picture book for adults. Made 10 years before she met John Lennon and discovered and published by their son Sean as his first Chimera Press publication it eerily foreshadows Ono’s and Lennon’s relationship as well as references Yoko’s experiences in a refugee camp in WW2.

    Body of Text by David Ellignsen & Micheal V. Smith is another poetry book that blurs and marries the categories between images and text. And, okay, the cover isn’t beige but it is black and white, hence carrying some level of neutrality so I thought I could sneak it into this post. Smith is a writer, performance artist and occasional clown. In this book he is photographed by the award winning Ellignsen in various poses, distortions and yoga positions to make his body resemble letters. These are placed throughout the pages in numbers one to three making you “read” the characters created by his body as if it was a poem. The effect is mesmerizing and lyrical, enticing much flipping backwards and forwards – of pages that is ;).

    Hall of Best Knowledge: [all ideas, seminal & harmonious, complete & boundless] by Ray Fenwick. Flipping through this book, it can be hard to tell what it is about as Fenwick has geniously invented his own form of storytelling perhaps best quipped as 'typographical comics'. This consists of short one-page frames, each with a different topic humorously detailing what he thinks is best for you to know about each subject and slowly but surely building a narrative that comes together piece by piece. My favourite is the one about libraries which says, "... times have changed... When a guest views your library, the effect should be akin to the speechless awe inspired by the primitive hunter tearing off his animal skin to display glistening, sustenance-providing muscles. If the viewer is not left trembling before your impressive selection of books, then there is work to be done! ". Enjoy!

    Staff Picks: 47 Sorrows by Janet Kellough

    by Sonya - 0 Comment(s)

    Sometimes we pick up a book and have a totally different reading experience than we expected. I checked out 47 Sorrows: a Thaddeus Lewis Mystery because it was a Canadian historical mystery written by a Canadian author. What more could one ask for? Janet Kellough certainly delivers on those expectations, but there is a whole different element to this book.

    Her story starts with a body being discovered on the beach. It is set in southern Ontario in the mid-1800s. Young Luke Lewis is travelling from his brother’s homestead near Lake Huron to Montreal to train as a doctor. This is where the book becomes much more than I expected. Luke stops in Kingston to assist the doctors, nuns and volunteer workers who are dealing with the influx of Irish immigrants. Thousands have fled the potato famine, many of them suffering from typhus. Luke and his father Thaddeus do solve the mystery of the body on the beach, but this becomes secondary to the plight of the immigrants.

    I have often heard of the potato famine and the Irish immigration of that time, but this book raised my awareness of the plight of the immigrants as their lives and families are torn apart by the epidemic. I might have guessed that this would not be a happy read by the title – 47 Sorrows – but I am glad that I read it. This look at history brings a greater understanding of the dislocation suffered by the immigrants of that time and by the experience of many in modern times.

    - Pat