September was a Month of Many Things. I felt like I didn’t read much because I also played a lot of DS (pokemon and Zelda), had the flu for week (do not recommend), and made a video for the #MillionsMissing campaign day, but actually quite a bit of reading happened too. No wonder I’ve been feeling a bit relapse-y and in need of more rest (I will definitely be resting more and doing less in October to nip that relapse-y tingle in the bud). But, for now, here’s what I read in the order I read them:
The Walking Dead volume 1 by Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore (comics – fiction)
As I don’t have Netflix or Sky I’m always about ten years behind everyone else (though to be fair, I still haven’t seen Die Hard so it’s mostly just me) and I haven’t seen the TV series, though lots of my friends rave about it, nor read the comics. I thought a lot of the artwork was really great, and writing-wise it definitely like a complete arc despite the fact it was fairly short. It has all the traditional zombie story cliches, but I was expecting that. I think it’s something I’d rather read in the massive compendiums, because the single volumes are a bit too short for me, but I would definitely give this a go first to see if you like it.
Undying by Michel Faber (poetry)
As a whole, this isn’t the best collection I’ve read, and I didn’t connect to some of the poems at all. But it’s still an incredibly moving book about Michel Faber’s late wife, and many of the poems are a real punch to the gut. Check out my full review which includes a couple of videos of him reading my favourites.
Monstress volume 1 by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda (comics – fiction)
The artwork in this is absolutely stunning (have a look at my full review for some examples). Unfortunately the writing didn’t live up it, as I found the exposition in dialogue was both too much and not clear enough, the pacing was off, and it’s confusing in places where it’s not clear a flashback has ended and we’re back in the present timeline. But I will still definitely pick up the next volume as I think it’s got potential and I loved the artwork.
My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki (novel)
A Tale for the Time Being was one of my favourite reads of 2014, so it’s taken me a fair while to pick up any of Ozeki’s other work. This was her debut novel, and it shows. Though it’s enjoyable enough, she uses a very broad brush in her characterisation and in demonstrating themes, and doesn’t have the same subtlety she has in A Tale. I think if I hadn’t read her latest novel first, I probably would have liked this one more, but, though I did like it, it wasn’t as good and hasn’t stayed with me in the same way.
Both by Tom Gauld & Simone Lia (comics – fiction)
This is a short collection of short comics, some of which are continued later in the book, rather than having it all in one big chunk, which I liked. It’s fun and cute and worth a quick look, particularly if you like Gauld’s comics in the Guardian.
Real World by Natsuo Kirino (novel, Japanese in translation)
Translated by Philip Gabriel. I still can’t decide if this is genius or meh. It’s a kind of dark coming-of-age story, with all the teenage characters trying to work out who they are, what to do with their lives, and how to grow up (in one case, ‘growing up’ and away from their parents by murdering their mother). I really liked the multiple narrators so you see the different ways the group of friends see themselves and each other. It lost me a bit when it introduced the perspective of Worm, because I just wasn’t interested in what he was thinking and I don’t think it was necessary for the story. I think she gets different teenage perspectives really well, though that does mean they’re sometimes irritating to read, because they’re supposed to be.
Trysting by Emmanuelle Pagano (novel, French in translation)
Translated by Jennifer Higgins & Sophie Lewis. This wasn’t for me. In part, my expectations were off because I thought it was the story of one couple told in a series of fragments, but actually every fragment refers to a different couple. I think it’s a book to read in lots of sittings, just dipping in and out, which isn’t something I did – I read the first half in one go, became tired of it, then didn’t pick it up much again and just skim read the rest. I like the variety in the fragments and I think you will find a feeling or situation that deeply resonates in more than one. I do get that in many ways the thread running through the book is the number of disparate and similar small moments between people, and how they can speak to something much larger than that one moment itself, but there just wasn’t enough of a thread for me, especially as I read a big chunk in one go. Unfortunately it became forgettable. It just reminded me how much I loved (and preferred) With A Zero At Its Heart by Charles Lambert, which is a short novel about one man’s life told in short fragments, which I’d recommend over this.
Currently reading: The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla. This is really excellent. I’ve barely started it but I already urge you to pick it up.