Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Reading Reading Comics

My first post-/non-generals book is Douglas Wolk's Reading Comics, which Emily bought a while ago and I've been saving for a treat. It's a really great overview of the past quarter century or so of comics/graphic novels/"sequential pictorial narrative art"/what-have-you, written by one of the best contemporary critics of same. I care only a little about comics, but I love Wolk: he has the wonderful, and rare, critical ability to make me feel excited even about work that I already know I don't really respond to (Grant Morrison, for instance) just because his own response is so energetic and intelligent. This puts him in a class with people like Pauline Kael, Robert Christgau, Stanley Cavell, etc. Anyway, highly recommended. (Yes, I realize it's a little funny that I'm "relaxing" with a book of criticism — but I suppose, if I'm honest with myself, I love really good criticism almost more than anything else.)

And it reminds me of something you might want to look at, Greg, for your local Modernism project: Alan Moore's only prose novel, Voice of the Fire, which sounds like it's squarely in the tradition of Paterson and Briggflats. Amazon says: "In a story full of lust, madness, and ecstasy, we meet twelve distinctive characters that lived in the same region of central England over a span of six thousand years. Each interconnected tale traces a path in a journey of discovery of the secrets of the land. In the tradition of Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill, Schwob's Imaginary Lives and Borges' A Universal History of Infamy, Moore travels through history blending truth and conjecture, in a novel that is dazzling, moving, sometimes tragic, but always mesmerizing." It's also, according to Wolk at least, bordering on unreadable. But don't you kind of want to find out for yourself?