Friday, February 21, 2014

#CBR6 Review #06: Locke & Key, vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

A recommendation from my sister who hasn’t even read this series yet, but she was told by my cousin that it is really good. And I have to say, the first volume of Locke & Key is a solid and intriguing start to this somewhat spooky and supernatural comic book series. Collecting the first 6 issues, volume 1 is entitled Welcome to Lovecraft and is written by Joe Hill, with engaging artwork by Gabriel Rodriguez: the artwork has a clean style that isn’t too flashy, and so doesn’t distract from the progression of the writing.

Welcome to Lovecraft begins with the murder of a man in the presence of his three children, by two teenagers, one of whom knew Mr. Locke (the murdered man) as a school counselor, and also had had words with Mr. Locke’s eldest son, Tyler. After this grizzly event, the Locke children move with their mother to their family estate in Keyhouse. Each child tries to cope with the death of their father in a different way, though something is clearly a little strange with both the house, and the history of the family. In particular, the strange events surrounding the reasons for Mr. Locke’s murder don’t stay away for long, and certain paranormal activities come to life within Keyhouse, some of which are sinister, and others that may or may not be helpful to the family. The youngest child, Bode, is the one who experiences the most of this activity, but of course the family just thinks this is his wild imagination that is making him tell them about the strange things he is experiencing… at least, they think so in the beginning.

There is clearly something deeper at play that the first volume of Locke & Key suggests at but doesn’t reveal quite yet. This has made me very interested in keeping on with the series and its interesting premise, as Welcome to Lovecraft is a strong start to what I can only hope continues to be an original and mysterious tale.

[Be sure to pop on over to the Cannonball Read main site]

Thursday, February 13, 2014

#CBR6 Review #05 - Egghead: Or, You Can’t Survive on Ideas Alone by Bo Burnham

If I had to summarize my feelings for this book in one sentence, it would read something like, “This is so silly, but I love it!” In all honesty, I don’t know why I had never heard of Bo Burnham until recently, and I must say that although he is a little ridiculous and random, I find his brand of comedy to be extremely amusing.

Egghead: Or, You Can’t Survive on Ideas Alone is a short book of poems with accompanying drawings by Chance Bone; the setup sort of reminds me of Demetri Martin’s writings at times, though with differing comedic sensibilities. Many of the poems come from Bo Burnham’s various standup routines, which are always a little scatter-brained, yet enjoyable.

For the most part, the poems found in Egghead are short, random, and ultimately very clever. Some, I might even call rather profound, or at the very least, quite sweet. An example of such is the poem entitled “Gypsy” which reads:

“On Wednesday morning, clear and calm
I went to Astor Place
and had a Gypsy read my palm
or maybe just my face.

She said my heart was heavy
and my head was stuffed with lies.
But things like that weren’t on my hand
they hid behind my eyes.

The room is dull and dank and cold
but at least I have a hand to hold.”

On the other side of the spectrum, many of the poems presented are just plain absurd and juvenile. And yet… I can’t help but laugh at them. For example:

“duh, duh, duh, duh,
duh, duh, duh, duh,

duh, duh, duh, duh,
duh, duh, duh, duh,

Generally speaking, however, there is a wit to these short, stand-alone writings, and the drawings that go with the poems are just as ridiculous, yet fit so well with the tone and words that they accompany. Every now and again there is a crassness to the poems, but it is typically utilized in a comedic or meaningful way, so as not to seem like the explicit language is just being thrown in there for the sake of it (though every now and again, maybe it is).

I can definitely see why some people might not like this book, as the humor is not for everyone. But I myself enjoy it, and happen to like reading little books of poems every now and again, between all the other academic or typical novel reading that I get up to most of the time.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read group blog]

Sunday, February 9, 2014

#CBR6 Review #04 – Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

I was inspired to read this book after a stellar review during last year’s Cannonball read, and have finally been able to finish it! And I must say, I wasn’t disappointed, as all the characters are rich and interesting, as is the weaving in and out of the relationships between both people and their sense of religion.

Brideshead Revisited itself begins with protagonist Charles Ryder, an English army officer in the 1940s, coming upon the old Marchmain estate of Brideshead, where his dear friend, Sebastian, used to live. The rest of the story then deals with Charles remembering his past, and all the events that occurred in his life that has some relation to the family at Brideshead.

We first see Charles as a young college student, who is at a little bit of a loss as to where his life as headed, only to meet a young man named Sebastian Flyte, the youngest son of the aristocratic Lord Marchmain. Charles and Sebastian become fast and close friends, which results in Charles going to meet the rest of Sebastian’s aristocratic family at their home at Brideshead. Over the years, due to turmoil between the separated Lord and Lady Marchmain, as well as strife in regards to an inconsistency in religiousness between members of the family, Sebastian becomes severely depressed and alcoholic, effectively drifting away from his friendship with Charles. With this separation from Sebastian, Charles effectively becomes estranged from the Marchmains as well. Charles, however, during his time at Brideshead, has found a passion with architectural painting, and pursues this career with great rewards, including a wife with many artistic connections. Yet on a trip across the sea with his wife, Charles runs into Sebastian’s sister, Julia, and the two find themselves falling for one another, despite the fact that both of them are married. Questions of the validity of divorce, death, and Catholicism are raised in the short time after Charles and Julia come together, and the two must then decide what they truly want to do in regards to their relationship.

The lively but clearly distressed character of Sebastian was one of my personal favorites, as he was like a puzzle to try and solve: how can you truly know someone when they barely ever let you know what they are truly thinking and feeling? Because of his flighty exterior with clear conflict inside, this made Sebastian’s relationship with Charles all the more interesting, particularly when Charles also became entwined with the rest of the Marchmain’s, and then had to traverse the fine lines between all of these different relationships with their differing strengths.

I will admit, that at first, it took me a bit of effort to get into Brideshead Revisited, but once I could clearly picture the era and social class being depicted in my mind, things began reading more smoothly. But more than anything, I enjoyed following the peculiar life of Charles Ryder, so removed and not relatable to my own that it took me out of my world with ease.

[Cannonball Read main site]