healyg: (Book Reading)
Sorry I've been away so long; I've just had trouble gathering the energy to update it or do much of anything besides playing old RPG Maker games and making snarky forum posts. So, what have I been reading over the past week (or two, or three)?

You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons by Mo Willems: This is a book of one panel cartoons the author drew, one for each day, when he took a year-long (give or take) trip around the world. The subjects range from locals to fellow backpackers to bad detours the author took and more; there's usually commentary under each cartoon, which can actually be pretty informative. It's a really nice look at different countries and cultures, I thought, especially those in Southeast Asia.

Oishinbo: The Joy of Rice by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki: Another entry in the venerable Oishinbo series. It's a little weak in parts (the three-part rice ball competition at the end is pretty boring, for instance), but most of it is still pretty good.

The Last Night by Will Eisner: It's an adaptation of Don Quixote by the late, celebrated Will Eisner. It's a little simplistic; it started out as a children's introduction to Don Quixote, and it shows. The plot is stripped down to the bare basics, and it rushes through events with an alarming speed. I can't say I enjoyed this one; maybe it's better if you have a kid you could give it to?

Explorer: The Hidden Doors, edited by Kazu Kibuishi: It's an all-ages anthology of short comics that deal with secret doors in some way. I was a little disappointed in this one; I liked the earlier books in the series, The Mystery Boxes and The Lost Islands, but most of the stories in this one felt dull and unimaginative, in ways I'm still trying to shake out. Maybe the artists were struggling with the title subject. The stories by Jen Wang and Johane Matte are pretty good, though.

Video Classics: A Guide to Video Art and Documentary Tapes by Deirdre Boyle: Mostly I picked this up because there was an entry on Jane Veeder, who has the same last name as a guy I know, Ryan Veeder. Anyway, I don't think they're related, but I was struck by the coincidence, especially since her video art has a glitchy, early video game feel. The book itself I thought was rather too snobby. Perhaps I'll go into it in a later post. Anyway, I guess if you want an entry point into the early world of video art and documentaries, you could do worse than this book.
healyg: (Excited)
Currently I'm reading What is Your Quest? From Adventure Games to Interactive Books by Anastasia Salter. It's a rough history of the adventure game genre from its early roots in the 70s to 80s to its resurgence in the internet/tablet era. It focuses more on the graphical adventure side of things, which I found pretty interesting as an IFer; it gives me an idea of how the other half lives, I guess. Anyway, if you're an adventure aficionado, you'll probably won't get as much from it as a beginner to these weird games with all these puzzles and no action bits, but it still comes highly recommended.

But wait, there's more! Book number 2 is Will Eisner's auto-bio graphic novel To the Heart of the Storm. When I checked this out of the library, I was expecting something that focused on Eisner's years in the war, but instead it's presented as a flashback to the tensions brewing before the war. I was a little disappointed in this, frankly, because it's a subject that I think was better handled in his A Life Force. Still, I did think it was a pretty good book. Recommended, but get A Life Force soon after.

Finally, book numero tres is Oishinbo A la Carte: Japanese Cuisine (story by Tetsu Kariya and art by Akira Hanasaki), which is a themed volume of standalone stories from the long running manga series Oishinbo. I didn't like the previous volume of Oishinbo I checked out from the library (Pub Food, I think?), but for some reason this volume just clicked. The main plot's not much: some dope named Yamaoka Shirou has to put together an Ultimate Menu of some kind for the newspaper he works, and his dad Kaibara Yuzaan, a hardass jerk, runs some kind of Supreme Menu for a rival paper. It doesn't really matter anyway, as it's mostly just an excuse to go on food-themed adventures. The author is a really big fan of simplicity in cooking, at least (especially?) when it comes to Japanese cuisine.

My favorite of the whole volume is the one where Yamaoka and friends accompany a businessman to a meeting with a tea ceremony master. Yamaoka doesn't think much of the old master, a boastful man who likes to talk about the famous people he teaches and showing off his expensive tea-ware, but it isn't until he serves the group strawberries covered in condensed milk that Yamaoka's suspicions about him are confirmed. What do the strawberries have to do with anything? You'll have to read the story to find out! Anyway, I think the stories in this volume are all pretty great like that, and it comes with an essay by the author that explains a bit of what he thinks about Japaneses cuisine. Highly recommended, especially if you like reading stories about food.


healyg: (Default)

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