Friday, December 29, 2023

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Some books I've read 60

The Amazing Spider-Man: The Master Planner 

Steve Ditko's last issues before he split. The last two or three are the weakest, so either he ran out of ideas or he lost interest. I will always prefer Romita, and later Andru, but Ditko deserves a lot of credit for creating the main characters in the comic and laying the groundwork for all that followed.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Spider-Man or Spider-Clone

Peak Ross Andru here, with inking by Mike Esposito or Frank Giacoia. The Jackal and the Gwen Stacy clone storyline, and then The Kingpin. Script by Gerry Conway and Len Wein. When I think about superhero comics, this is the stuff that pops out in my head. One more volume to go, publication in May, next year.

Captain America: The Red Skull Lives

Okay, the stories aren't all that interesting, but the art by Jack Kirby and in a couple of stories Gil Kane, is all dynamite.

Les aventures de R. Crumb by Robert Crumb.

This is one of the French translations of Crumb, published by Cornélius in a beautifully designed book on heavy paper. I don't have much by Crumb, mostly Fritz the Cat and the early sketchbooks, but I found a cheap copy of this book and will look for more.

I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore

Hmm... Not really to my taste, this book, the writer moving away from reality into fantasy / magic realism. I found it hard to care about the characters. Or character, really. Which is a shame. Moore can still write a killer sentence, though.

The Stones by Philip Norman

After all the Beatles books, I had been looking for a biography of Rolling Stones, and here it is! Well written, not too dry, and skipping some of the less interesting later stuff. But I still find Mick Jagger to be a bit ridiculous, I must confess.

Kiki Man Ray by Mark Braude 

The story of Kiki de Montparnasse, her relationship with Man Ray and Paris in the 20's. How she moved from being a model to a singer and also an artist before the traditional sad ending. Where's the biopic?

The Twilight Years: Paris in the 1930s by William Wiser

Not bad, some good stuff, Henry Miller arrives and meets Anais Nin, James Joyce is an asshole to Sylvia Beach, but I prefer Wiser's earlier book, The Crazy Years: Paris in the Twenties.

Friday, August 11, 2023



Upside Dawn has been nominated for an Outstanding Collection Ignatz Award!

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Allen Ginsberg


The Ginsberg biography I ordered arrived, but the spine was sun-damaged, so I made a new cover.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Some books I've read 59

One Two Three Four by Craig Brown

A great book about The Beatles, very entertaining, and also about the world around The Beatles, and how they, really, changed it.

Beatles '66 by Steve Turner

I started listening to Beatles music, especially Revolver, so I decided to re-read this book, about what the Beatles did that year, and how they went from being pop singers to... artists.

Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now by Barry Miles 

It's hard to stop. I read the Philip Norman biography some time ago, but Barry Miles was an actual friend of McCartney, and spent years interviewing him, so the book should, maybe, be as close to an autobiography we will get. But there are just twenty pages, an afterword, about what happens after Beatles breaks up. And possibly, Miles should have split the book in two: a biography about McCartney, and then a memoir about his time knowing him and working for apple. 

Behold The Man by Michael Moorcock

A man travels back in time to meet Jesus, and yes, you can guess where this is going.

Lazy Days by Erlend Loe 

A Norwegian couple and their kids rent an apartment in Germany for a month. The book has the Loe touch, but maybe doesn't reach the highs of...

Naive. Super. by Erlend Loe

I read this in French some years ago, but wanted to read it in English as well. His breakthrough in Norway, and in Europe as well, I would think. A reflection of its time, maybe, for good or for bad.

Ernest Hemingway: The Search for Courage by Keith Ferrell

It's a Hemingway biography, so I had to read it, but it's pretty superficial and doesn't bring anything new. This edition is from 2014, but the book was written in the 80's. As always with Hem bios, the last 50 pages are quite depressing.

Currently reading:

My Life With Dylan Thomas: Double Drink Story by Caitlin Thomas

Shakespeare n'a jamais fait ça by Charles Bukowski

Friday, June 2, 2023

Some books I've read 58

All of the Marvels by Douglas Wolk

A bit disappointing, I would say. But maybe, it's just me, that for the most part am not that interested in what happened after the mid eighties. Spider-Man being an example. I never read the clone saga, and then the stuff after that, One More Day and so on, sounds even worse.

Children of Dune by Frank Herbert 

It's okay. A bit slow, maybe. But a masterpiece compared to...

God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert

O boy, where to begin... did the writer fall on his head? The story takes place thousands of years after the previous book. Paul's son, Leto, is now half human, half worm, and... he likes to talk. A lot. Basically it's him lecturing about something the whole book, and the other persons around going, -That's interesting, please tell us more. 500 pages of this. I, somehow, finished the book, but I am now beginning to doubt I will read the two last books in the series.

Color of Money by Walter Tevis 

Not bad. But it's a month or two since I read it, and I already don't remember much.

The Hemingway Hoax by Joe Haldeman 

Before Everything Everywhere All At Once, there was... this book. A man decides to fake the Hemingway stories that Hadley lost on the train in Gare de Lyon. Agents of time and space try to stop him, first in this universe, then the next. Pretty fun as an exercise, does it stick the landing? Maybe, maybe not.

Raymond Carver: An Oral Biography by Sam Halpert

It's an oral biography, but not in strict chronological order, which is usually the case in this sort of books. So you get a bit lost in the story of Carver's life, especially since he and his family moved around a lot. But this book makes me want to re-read his short stories.

The Art of Alice and Martin Provensen

Great collection of illustrations from their whole career. Would have loved to see more from their travel sketchbooks.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Some books I've read 57

The Feral Detective by Jonathan Lethem 

Another detective story, like his masterpiece Motherless Brooklyn. but unfortunately not one of his best. He can be a bit up and down, Lethem, from Motherless or Gun with Occasional Music, down to You Don't Love Me Yet, his worst book?

The Hustler by Walter Tevis 

Great noirish novel. The film with Paul Newman was pretty faithful, so I'm not sure it adds that much. But well written, as always with Tevis. I should maybe read the sequel, Color of Money as well, since in that case the film is quite different. And anyway, I haven't seen it.

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem 

Hmm... A bit disappointed in this book. Some of it went completely over my head, I must confess.  So it's probably my fault. The Soderbergh film version is pretty good, actually (with a great soundtrack). I don't remember much from the Tarkovsky version seen many years ago on TV.

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

It's quite different from the first volume, mostly being palace intrigue. Actually, the book reminded me a bit of Jane Austen, in the way the characters never say directly what they mean, it's rather between the lines - they're fencing with words. Will read volume 3 and then decide if I will go for all six. 

La mort de Spirou by Abitan, Guerrive and Schwartz 

Great drawings by Olivier Schwartz (in a style completely stolen from Chaland, but anyway), and working better as a comic than previous books by him, I think. The story is only so so, not close to Spirou at its best back in the Franquin days. Interestingly, the story is set in modern days, Fantasio reading the news on an iPad. And ending with a To be followed. 

Daredevil: Alone Against the Underworld

A bit boring stories, but great art by John Romita, before Gene Colan takes over in the last couple of issues.

The Amazing Spider-Man: The Goblin Lives

Not Stan Lee at his best. Or was it Steve Ditko that had the good story ideas? The whole soap opera part of the early issues is often missing. And the art is weak as well. Several of the issues have final pencilling by Don Heck, and if it's John Romita, it's inked by Jim Mooney, not a favourite. Plus they give Mary Jane an awful new hairdo. Yukh!

Currently reading:

Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Some books I've read 56

Strange Things Happen by Stewart Copeland 

The least interesting of the three Police memoirs, unfortunately. Andy's is best, then Sting. A lot about the reunion concerts, not that much about the early days of the band. So, him and Sting fought a lot, apparently. Yes, we know.

Mockingbird by Walter Tevis 

A sci fi novel by the author behind Queen's Gambit. He also wrote The Man Who Fell to Earth. Describing a future where the few people left are mostly drugged and where showing emotions is not cricket. Pretty good.

The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis

I haven't seen the TV series, but wanted to read the novel. A girl orphan grows up to be a chess champion. Great book, it helps if you like to play chess, I suppose, and it makes me want to read The Hustler and Tevis's other books. 

Five Decembers by James Kestrel 

Great novel that starts in Honolulu before the attacks on Pearl Harbor. A policeman is investigating two murders. The solution seems to be in Hong Kong. And then... Written in a sort of no fuss Hemingwayesque style that fits the story.

The Affirmation by Christopher Priest

Well written, but with a distance that possibly works against the novel. I enjoyed the book, but was maybe a bit disappointed by the ending. No matter, I've already ordered more books by this writer.

Dylan Goes Electric! by Elijah Wald 

The famous night at Newport where Dylan, yes, went electric. Did Pete Seeger try to cut the cords with an axe? Apparently no. But that's two thirds into the book. Dylan's backstory I mostly knew, Seeger's not so much.

Macanudo: Welcome to Elsewhere by Liniers 

Brilliant, as usual by Liniers. I used to buy the French editions from Pasteque, but it seems they stopped publishing those for some reason. Good to see him back.

Doctor Strange: The Eternity War by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko 

The last Strange stories by Steve Ditko, leading up to a final confrontation between Dormammu and Infinity. A bit sudden, maybe. Possibly Ditko no longer wanted to work with Lee? He did the plotting and the drawings, so if he was unhappy with the narration and dialog, that's understandable. But... I'm buying the new Mighty Marvel Masterworks books, and Dr Strange and Spider-Man are the ones I enjoy actually reading.

Currently on my bedside table: 

The Hustler by Walter Tevis 

The Feral Detective by Jonathan Lethem