28 October 2007

Je vous présente...

I had to kill the ol' Friendster blog because of all the crazy ads, so welcome to the new librairie.

For all ye' who don't already know, this is where I post everything I read. It's been going on since December 2005 (so it's not like I've read 64 titles this October only)...

Love, Peace and Equal Rights.

Abahn Sabana David by Marguerite Duras

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This month is Duras month in Stockholm, as Judiska Teatern holds seminars on her work and performances of "The Dogs in Prague", which is director Pia Forsgren's stage adaptation of Katarina Frostenson's translation of the novel Abahn Sabana David. And oh yes, Cinemateket is showing a whole lot of her films. Enfin!

To say something about the novel itself, it is friggin' fantastic.

Ants Have Sex in Your Beer by David Shrigley

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We are not allowed in Shrigley's hell. We must stay in our own hells.

Skissbok by Marcus Nyblom

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Great wordless art from Swedish artist Marcus Nyblom! Buy here.

Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch

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And I love David Lynch. Yeah well, who doesn't.

I'm the One that I Want by Margaret Cho

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I love Margaret Cho.

Der Himmel über Berlin by Wim Wenders

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This is obviously one of the most fantastic presents I've ever been blessed with: the full script and photographs of every scene!

Thank you Jan for being the most fabulous friend.

Dix heures et demie du soir en êtê by Marguerite Duras

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Perhaps she should get her own category. Anyway, I'll continue not really writing about her books. Modernista will publish La maladie de la mort in Swedish shortly, and that's great for people and devastating for me. In some weird way. But congratulations, Sweden.

Dogs & Water by Anders Nilsen

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Anders Nilsen's drawings are magical.

This book is fantastic.

Something like Brian Ralph's Daybreak but sad and drawn with a real thin pen.

Le Navire Night by Marguerite Duras

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I wish I could see all Duras' own films some day.

Until then, thank heavens for Modernista, the only Swedish publisher that seems to care about her work at all at the moment.

Pol Pots Leende by Peter Fröberg Idling

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I first got this in hardback but obviously didn't read it until the paperback version came out. That's what usually happens. Hardbacks are too heavy. Then again, it seems like a good thing to buy something a friend has written twice.

The past week I've been spending a lot of my time on trains between the film project in the south of Sweden and Stockholm. And Arboga. Most of the time reading. It's been impossible to stop, even though the images of recent Cambodian history are horrifying to say the least. I've been worried a lot. Thinking about Malaysia and how close it is between the two countries. P describes the South East Asian sights and sounds so well it's like being there. I like his first novel a lot. A lot.

Drift by Liv Strömquist and Jan Bielecki

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Pretty sweet queer feminist sex comics. A short story made long, kinda, and sometimes a bit too hastily drawn, it seems. But as an alternative to the not very empowering Starlet comics I used to read as a kid, it's very good.

Galago #90

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Great issue, especially Liv Strömquist's "The Most Provoking Boyfriends in History", Joakim Pirinen's dream and the "remix" of Thomas Ott's The Hook by Swedish Gunnar Lundkvist.

David Boring by Daniel Clowes

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I know, I've been going on about Clowes ever since I read "Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron". That's because it is very probable that he is a man who has understood almost everything. Sure, Tomine is close. But this guy... Too bad Art School Confidential made such a crappy movie.

This Is a Paper Trinket for You to Wear by David Shrigley

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J. got a Shrigley tee at the Tate Modern store. It's hilarious.

"This Is..." is not as heavy hitting as some of his earlier work, but it sure has its moments.

All I've been thinking of since London is the Shrigley drawing Battle Dress as I became crazy with the thought of Comme des Garçons' tar perfume.

White Like Me by Oivvio Polite

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Journalist Oivvio Polite's collection of articles and essays on racism blows me away. All Swedish peeps should read it as soon as they possibly can.

S.C.U.M. Manifesto by Valerie Solanas

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S.C.U.M. makes me laugh out loud. And bow deeply.

The Swedish foreword by translator Sara Stridsberg is very beautiful. As was her play "Valerie Jean Solanas ska bli president i Amerika" starring my fave actress Ingela Olsson. And the novel "Drömfakulteten" (The Dream Faculty) that I have yet to finish.

Omega by Johannes Anyuru

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Poet Johannes Anyuru writes with silver in Swedish winter skies.

Avant les hommes by Nina Bouraoui

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It is a story about a young boy and his thoughts during the summer that seems to be the last 'avant les hommes'. He dreams about a boy, he is empty before his mother, he smokes to feel something else.
J'ai envie d'un homme parce que j'ai envie d'une autre vie que la mienne, j'ai envie qu'on me raconte une histoire, j'ai envie de savoir comment cela se passe ailleurs, dans les autres cerveaux, j'ai envie que l'on me change la tête.

Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen

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I know. The cover, the title. Scary. But the book is crazily interesting, especially for greek myth geeks like me.

The North China Lover by Marguerite Duras

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Once again, that story. Perhaps more whole this time. I like it better like this. More told in pictures.

Mystiska 2:an by Rolf Gohs

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In a shady 70's Stockholm City, Sacho and Stefan, two boys in their early teens, play around amongst all kinds of weirdos, criminals and teen gangs. It's a pretty harsh environment, even for streetwise kids like these, and I can't help loving the seriousness of it all, as well as the quite expressionistic black and white drawings. This is J's favourite comic book, I can really see why.

Komika will be re-releasing some of the comics this September. Some information and very nice old scans can be found at this fan site. I've also heard rumours about there being some sort of film adaptation in the works..?

Vortex by Martin Tom Dieck

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Wordless on water. Absolutely amazing.

Staden din resa by Clara Diesen

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I like Clara Diesen.

Optic Nerve #11 by Adrian Tomine

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It gets better: even worse.

I love it.

The last part in the "Shortcomings" series of Optic Nerve does not give any more answers. And that's just what it shouldn't do.

Reading it is like reminding yourself life is hopeless on an already hopeless day. At least there is someone out there who knows how to draw that shit.

Mishima by John Nathan

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The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

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Been meaning to read this one for some time, however reluctant. I suppose all the other stories about hospitals and loss finally took me there. It turned out to be very unsentimental and quite beautiful in all its honesty; it made me remember a lot about what it was like losing someone far too quickly. The strange ways of a person in shock.

LAT & Gang by LAT

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LAT again!

Happy to find more of his albums in Malaysia. Sometimes it's hard to follow certain caricatures and jokes about old 'current issues', but just from hanging out in M'sia for a while, this one made me laugh out loud.

Hardboiled & Hard Luck by Banana Yoshimoto

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Two short stories about loss. The first is a spooky thing about a young woman walking in the mountain forests on the anniversary of her ex-girlfriend's death. In the second, the narrator's sister has suffered cerebral hemorrhage, lying in her sickroom no longer able to breath without help.

Neat. Well-written stuff.

Poupée Bella by Nina Bouraoui (Again)

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I finally got to read it in French.

A book so much on love and writing I can't really write too much about it.
Je ne sais pas s'il faut vivre ou écrire.
Je ne sais pas si l'amour est le sacrifice de l'écriture, ou si l'écriture efface, lentement, l'amour.

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima

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I've been waiting for the right moment to read this one since it was recommended to me last spring in Spain. For exchange: Duras, in a way. So I had to really find the right time. The trip to Malaysia obviously was it.

A few days in summer; in winter. Before and after. When I was a kid talking about stories and film in particular, I always used to say: "when they get married, that's when it gets boring".

And once again, the man who leaves, for glory, for war, for the sea: sentimental enough to think it is the only answer to his restless soul. The Big Blue B-S. The malady of death. And the woman who knows he's phoney, but can't resist.

The group of boys reminds me of the horrible Simona Vinci novel "What We Don't Know About Children". And I do believe this novel is the key to my finally reading Moderato Cantabile. Seems they do have a connection.

Galago #89

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Some Tom Gauld and Yoshihiro Tatsumi in Swedish, and the genius "In These Woods We Are Ewok Things" by Kolbeinn Karlsson.

Kampung Boy by LAT

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The very wonderful beginning of a longer story about a little boy who grows up in rural Malaysia early last century. The closest bigger town is Ipoh, which is the place where my family is from, and I suspect the school the little boy leaves his village for might be the one my father went to as a kid. The drawings are special and very sweet in a non-ingratiating way. I'd love to read the rest.

Read some.

Patient by Ben Watt

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In 1992, Everything But The Girl's Ben Watt was taken to hospital for chest pains. Some months and a few very serious operations later he came home 20 kilos lighter and missing metres and metres of small intestine.

"(...) The little things we're in for turn out to be not so little after all. An endoscopy. A laparoscopy. A miscarriage. Keyhole surgery. 'It's nothing,' they say. But they all bring invasion."

One third into this amazing book, I felt really sick and wondered whether I should really read on, being so scared of hospitals and operations and various body fluids as I am. But a while later that passed and some sort of numbness took over. I suppose it's just as it would seem when it happens to you - you start out afraid and frustrated by the fact that you have no control and it's all in the hands of health care, but then you somehow learn (or are forced) to bear with it.

"I looked forward to simple, basic things - dry, clean sheets; the feeling of leaning back on freshly pumped pillows; the moment of unwrinkling my brow."

Similar to the tiniest things you have to force yourself to remember you love about life when you have decided to live after having wanted to die, I guess; something I wrote about in a dialogue some years ago: "Ärmmudden på en stickad tröja. Knappt skönjbara stavfel. Värmen i en hunds ljumske."

Ben Watt gets to shower for the first time in weeks after his first operations:

"I feel like a rare animal saved from extinction. I am tiny. A marsupial."

Go buy it.

Big Questions 9: The Lost and Found by Anders Nilsen

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I had to get more Anders Nilsen after that last one. It's very seldomly that you find someone who can draw emptiness; this guy can. Big Questions 9 is so loveable it almost hurts.

Don't Go Where I Can't Follow by Anders Nilsen (with Cheryl Weaver)

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Spring 2005 Anders Nilsen's fiancé Cheryl was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away later that year. The couple's clippings, letters, drawings, photographs make up a beautiful book that breaks one's heart. It is one of the best things I have read about loss.

Read an excerpt at publisher Drawn & Quarterly.

Shrimpy and Paul and Friends by Marc Bell

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This is some of the funniest stuff I've ever read. Especially "The Ball, the Goose, THE POWER!". I'd have a Shrimpy for mascot in my apartment any day.

Read some.

Daybreak by Brian Ralph

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The little one-armed guy takes care of you and leads you through a landscape full of ruins where everyone's on their own and something evil lurks. There is very little you can do besides joining the battle.

This story (number one in a series) first ran in the Bodega Blog, a great place where a lot of fantastic artists post their sketches and stuff. The rest of the story is being posted ongoingly.

Cave-In by Brian Ralph

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Wordless is the word. The art of Cave-In is actually PERFECT, there is nothing anyone can say about that in the whole world ever ever. Brian Ralph is another one of my favourite geniuses of graphic novels.

I was so happy returning home from the holidays yesterday with two great packages from Bodega Distribution, the company that's taken over the distribution from fantastic publisher Highwater Books. I'm especially overjoyed for the Brian Ralph posters on hard paper that I instantly must find some wall space for.

Please take a good look at the Bodega store, they ship internationally and are very nice people on top.

A little sample.

An online comic from the Fort Thunder webpage.

Mes mauvaises pensées by Nina Bouraoui

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I had really wanted for this to be the last book on the '06 list, but I was too busy meditating over The Word for 2007 on the train.

It's funny with N.B., every new novel by her translated into Swedish seems to be very similar to the one I'm writing in my head. And after reading them, I have to reconsider my own.

Mes mauvaises pensées (in Swedish Mina onda tankar) is written in one long sentence, it seems, so very dense that it's almost hard to remember what you've read, which is a little disturbing and therefore perhaps kinda healthy for a word fascist like me. It contains all thoughts at once, intended for the female psychoanalyst: words on childhood, girlfriends, relatives, Algeria, Paris. It is not to be missed.

L'amant by Marguerite Duras

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So now I've finally read it. And yes, it is a beautiful piece of work at 100 pages plus. I'm not going to write that much about it, just that it's been like reading a headline after going through the immense body of work.

The one thing that pisses me off about this book is that publishing companies seem to want to degrade it to an erotic tale about a poor, very young porcelain white girl and an older, very rich Chinese man, like this was the main story. It's not.

Whatever you do, do not see the the movie.

Hard Boiled by Frank Miller and Geof Darrow

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Finally some good ol' excessive violence!

"Very autistic", J says à propos the detailed art and I totally agree. It's like I can't for my life picture someone actually drawing this stuff on pieces of paper. Quite impressive and seemingly very much the art of a madman (yeah, well, who also did the conceptual design for The Matrix trilogy). Geofrey Darrow, what a guy.

Expect weird glances from your fellow subway passengers on your way home from your favourite comic book store!


The Extended Dream of Mr. D. by Max

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Just re-read this beautiful and confusing story by Mallorquín artist Max. Love it.

Cinema Panopticum by Thomas Ott

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I was shown some of Swiss Thomas Ott's art a few years ago and was amazed. After that his name slipped my mind and I've been looking for his graphic novels since, trying to explain his style to all my favourite comicbookstores with no result. Today was the day!

The stories are truly beautiful and very scary; absolutely wordless and meticulously drawn. They remind me of little else, but it's very obvious that a lot of my favourite artists have been influenced by Ott. And who wouldn't be by someone who can tell stories without having the characters saying anything?

Works like this convince me even more: the graphic novel in all its glory is superior to literature and cinema, even.

Check out some of the artwork.

Kolonialsjukhuset by Knut Larsson

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A short graphic novel in hardback by Swedish comic book artist / illustrator Knut Larsson, based on the writings in a notebook found in a vintage military store.

Doctor Proefrock arrives to a colonial hospital in another part of the world, where some sort of epidemic is spreading. Missing a certain woman, he distracts himself with the nurses in between autopsies.

It's sad and beautifully drawn, as always. And while waiting for KL's coming story about a crocodile city, very worth reading.

The Push Man and Other Stories by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

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Adrian Tomine has edited and lettered this book of wonderfully strange everyday stories by Japanese alternative comics mega star Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Sexual guilt, violent acts and a few fetuses found in the sewers make up these short stories from 1969, quite beautifully drawn in black and white. It's amazing to read something more than 35 years old that has so much in common with one's present day favourites such as Tomine and Clowes. Which isn't just a coincident.

Read more at Publishing company Drawn and Quarterly who say they will be releasing one volume of Yoshihiro Tatsumi's massive body of work a year from now on, every collection consisting of stories all written in the same year.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

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Gene Yang is my new idol. Never before have I read anything that comes this close in explaining the "growing up Western Chinese" experience (although Adrian Tomine is usually on point).

Three stories make up the comic book:
Jin is a geeky Chinese boy who wants to be like the white kids in school.
The Monkey King is a stubborn deity who thinks he's larger than life.
Chin-Kee is a buck-toothed Chinaman stereotype who drives his white cousin crazy.

Read some.

Go get it.

Not Finishing

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At the moment I am awfully tired of not finishing any books.

These are the books I am currently not reading:

1. Nina Bouraoui - La Vie Heureuse (French is hard)
2. Marguerite Duras - L'Amant (It's too obvious a choice, I might never finish this one)
3. Marguerite Duras - Le Navire Night (It's too great)
4. Susan J. Napier - Anime - From Akira to Howl's Moving Castle (Don't know why)
5. Sara Stridsberg - Drömfakulteten (It's long)
6. Martina Haag - Martina-koden (It's fun)

Always on the list (Might be I'm still too young):

1. Marguerite Duras - Moderato Cantabile
2. Harry Martinson - Aniara
3. Simone de Beauvoir - The Second Sex

Etc, etc.

Garçon Manqué by Nina Bouraoui

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Nina Bouraoui gives better voice to the child lost in between two worlds than any other contemporary writer I have read so far. Algiers - Rennes; this novel consists of two parts - a childhood in Northern Africa and teenage years in Europe. During these years when little French Algerian girl Yasmina becomes Brio, Ahmed and finally Nina.

Yasmina's monologues are aimed at her best friend in Algeria: Amine. Her closest, the boy she loves, the Algeria she will miss. The one she confides in, the only one to understand and share the knowledge and the burden of being a mix between two countries at war. But in his abscence.

I can't believe neither this novel nor Poupée Bella has been translated into English. Please read it in French or Swedish.

On Katarina Frostenson's Lyrical Voices

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Today's Svenska Dagbladet Under strecket features a really interesting piece on Katarina Frostenson's drama.

Hemma hos Martina by Martina Haag

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A collection of chronicles by actress/writer Martina Haag that first appeared in different Swedish newspapers and magazines for mothers. It made me laugh out loud a lot of times on the train to Arboga; some of Martina's rants about being a mother slash actress are really really funny.

I am currently working with a feature film that is an adaptation of her second book and first novel Underbar och älskad av alla, which has a lot to do with these funny thingies storywise. It's going to be a great comedy.