Monday, September 12, 2011

20th Century Boys & More

The hurricane is long gone but I am still reading The Honourable Schoolboy.   Parts of it are great but other parts are irritating - like some of the nonsense we have to read about life in Hong Kong and in Italy. Can a thriller turn into a slow read?  This one has but on the whole I still find it greatly enjoyable.

I also started one of fall's most anticipated new releases, Tom Perrotta's The Leftovers.  I finally got around to reading 2007's The Abstinence Teacher in August (there is a monstrous backlog of stuff to read here) and enjoyed it tremendously.  Over the past few years I seem to have gone overboard reading mysteries and thrillers and it was nice to read some plain fiction.

I can't wait for the new Haruki Murakami novel 1Q84 to come out in October.  The New Yorker ran an excerpt from the book last week called Town of Cats.  And the story featured an illustration from Adrian Tomine - someone whose work I have been reading lately as well.  (Tomine also did the illustration for the New York Times Book Review of The Leftovers.  He's everywhere. I'm supposed to get issue #12 of Tomine's comic Optic Nerve sometime in September - the pub date seems to keep changing.)  Apparently anticipation for 1Q84 is so great that fans have been translating bits of it into English from Japanese.  And the Guardian ran a story over the weekend claiming that bookshops in the US will open at midnight to sell copies of it on publication day just like they did for the Harry Potter books.  As much as I would love to live in a world where this could happen, I have to call bullshit on the Guardian's story.  It would have been nice to name a single store with plans to do so.  Maybe a few places in New York and San Francisco will do this but I cannot see this happening anywhere else.

Continuing with the Japan theme, I started reading Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys.  I've already finished volumes 1 and 2.  I have all of them through number 9 from the library except number 4, which I had to order online.  I had been reading Osamu Tezukas series Black Jack - which I enjoyed - but I wanted something with a long and complicated plot, so I gave 20th Century Boys a try and was knocked out.  I shouldn't over praise it based on two volumes but it is thrillingly entertaining so far.  And in a nice bit of coincidence, Marc Bolan and T Rex are on the cover of the new issue of Uncut so I've been reading about them and listening to Electric Warrior and the other stuff I have in iTunes.  (I have a BBC 4 documentary on Bolan that I've been meaning to watch, too.)

I looked at some scanlation copies of 20th Century Boys and opted to stick with the books - Viz seems to have done a very nice job.   Except Viz refuses to sell 20CBs via their app - I would love to read it on my iPad.  That's frustrating.  And I noticed they haven't finished publishing these books yet - so I will end up finished with what is in print before the final few volumes are published.  Will I have to read illegitimate online copies?  I have also taken a look at Urasawa's new series Billy Bat via scanlation copies.  It looks fantastic but as far as I can tell there is no timetable yet set for an American edition.

One other thing I recently read that was utterly fantastic was the graphic novel David Boring by Daniel Clowes.  I grabbed several of his books from the library and quite frankly, thought David Boring was going to be the worst of the lot.  (Perhaps something to do with the title?)  I'm not even sure how to describe it.  Like something David Lynch would create - but more accessible.  A great, great book.


Louis XIV, 'The Sun King' (Nick Jones) said...

When I was reading The Honourable Schoolboy, I too found the Westerby sections hard going. But on reflection, at a little distance, even those parts remain vibrant in the memory. I'm partway through writing a review of the novel at the moment (which I should have up tomorrow), and recalling the book is making me realise what a brilliant piece of fiction it is, and how Westerby's story, which was a struggle at the time, is so much a part of that.

Agreed on David Boring: Dan Clowes's masterwork, and still one of my favourite graphic novels.

Book Glutton said...

I should've written a disclaimer before I complained about parts of Schoolboy - because even though I think the book would be better if there were less of Westerby's theatrics, on the whole, the book (and its predecessor) are brilliant. Often when reading a book, you have the idea that you could've written it or done better. But with these two le Carres, I can't even fathom how they were constructed and am completely amazed by them. So maybe all this Westerby stuff will be worth it in the end - I take your word for it (you're a pretty good judge of these things) and I should finish things before complaining.

BTW - not having finished Schoolboy and not having read Smiley's People, will I be able to safely read your upcoming Smiley review? Or should I check back in a few weeks? Smiley week has been great.

Louis XIV, 'The Sun King' (Nick Jones) said...

I try not to reveal too much in the way of plot in my reviews, so you shouldn't get any nasty surprises in either review – hopefully nothing beyond what you'd read in the book's blurb. The Smiley's People review's up now: I'm rather pleased with it, although it is a bit of a beast.