I barely read in June. It was one of those months where I just didn’t feel like it, and mostly re-watched Battlestar Galactica. I don’t mind when that happens – sometimes you want to do other things – but happy to be getting back into it again (and enjoying what I’m reading, which wasn’t really the case in June). So, this month – a few comics and one novella:
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto (fiction, Japanese in translation)
Translated by Megan Backus. I don’t understand why this is so lauded, at least, I don’t understand why the English-language version is lauded. I don’t read Japanese, but I’m pretty sure this was a terrible translation. It felt like it had been translated directly, word for word, rather than the kind of artful co-creation translating fiction needs. Though there was a small glimmer of the quality of the writing at the beginning of the short story at the end (Moonlight Shadow), it meant the book was clunky and repetitive and didn’t read well at all. And, although I know it was written in the 80s, I wasn’t comfortable with the constant mis-gendering of the trans character, Eriko, like this passage –
“There aren’t many men who will open a car door for a woman. I think it’s really great.”
“Eriko raised me that way,” he said, laughing, “If I didn’t open the door for her, she’d get mad and refuse to get in the car.”
“Even though she was a man!” I said, laughing.
“Right, right, even though she was a man.”
..even though she was a man…*massive eye roll*. If you want to read this, either read it in the original Japanese or find a different translation, and make sure your brain is turned on.
The Beauty, volume 1 by Jeremy Haun & Jason A. Hurley (comics – fiction)
I really like the cover art, though the artwork inside is just generic comic book style. And I like the concept – an STD that makes you physically attractive, so people are trying to catch it, which turns out to be a very bad idea. The story, characters, and dialogue can be a bit thin at times, but it’s an enjoyable read and I’ll definitely pick up the next volume.
Sex Criminals, volume 3 by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky (comics – fiction)
I’m not sure what I think about this. I enjoyed it, but also feel like it’s lost its way a bit. I like the meta elements of the way Sex Criminals is written, but they were very over-used in this volume. There was also little progression of character or plot, in a way that felt like Fraction/Zdarsky don’t really know where they’re going with it – like they had a fun concept but didn’t think much further than the first volume or two. I will pick up volume four, but if that one feels the same I probably won’t carry on the series.
Bitch Planet #8 by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Valentine de Landro (comics – fiction)
The only problem with this book is that the delays between issues sometimes lessen the impact. I really liked the subtle way Mr Makoto realised he was being lied to (made better by the note in the back pages about why the particular piece of music was chosen). Also from the essay at the back, DeConnick & de Landro actually spoke to trans women about including trans characters, and then made changes based on their feedback. A too rare thing. The next issue is called ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’. I am definitely here for that.
Ex Machine, volume 2 by Brian K Vaughan & Tony Harris (comics – fiction)
I read this at the beginning of the month and can’t remember anything about it, except that it didn’t blow me away. I want to love this, and like a lot of the ideas, but it feels a little formulaic somehow. I have the third volume on my TBR shelf, which I will get to, but after that? Who knows.
Currently reading: The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukkerjee (non-fiction) – this is really excellent so far.