Chris' Fish Place

Thoughts on things, mostly books.

 

 

                             

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Philadelphia Protest

I know that the rioting and looting that took place after the protest got coverage, but people should also know:

 

Rizzo is a conflicted and problematic (to say it politely) figure in Philly.  Did some good for some people, but also was a racist and very pro cop as in “cops never do anything wrong”.  The statue is slated to be moved (this decision was made prior to the protest).

 

Two, the rioting and looting were in Center City. The rumors of Southwest Philly being targeted were not true.

 

Three (and this is the important one) - Harriett’s Bookshop, a Black woman owned and oriented bookstore in the Fishtown section received a donation and handed out copies of Harriett Tubman and Malcolm X during the protest.  That is what protesting in Philly is and should be remembered for.  (FYI - the bookshop is online and on Venmo).

More Comic Round up

The Red Shoes and Other Tales by Metaphrog - currently this is free to the end of May in ebook form.  It includes two retellings Andersen tales and an original piece.  Nicely dark and scary when called for.  

 

Harleen #1 (DC) - still free - Harley Quinn’s backstory or a new origin.  I’m not sure which.  The price for 2 and 3 is very steep, but the writing is so very good.  I wasn’t a huge Quinn fan until Bird of Prey, and then when this was free, I figured I should check it out.  It really is quite good.  I particularly love the fact that women actually talk to each other and not about men in this.  The book also deals with how getting labeled can stick with you, and how people can combat that.

 

DC Nuclear Winter Special - this one I paid for.  It is a bunch of Christmas/winter themed stories from the DC universe.  The Aquaman tale was particularly good.  It was better than the DC Holiday Special which is on offer for free - that one has far more male centered stories than female ones.  Nuclear Winter Special has a great Supergirl story among others.

 

Ghost Omnibus (Dark Horse) - this is pretty darn good.  It is about a woman who is a ghost (hence the title) as she tries to figure out what extactly she is and how she got there.  It is superior to the relaunch of the series, which centers her tale though the viewpoint of men.  While this older edition might be a little heavy on men are evil let’s get them in some aspects of the story, it is actually still good.  I loved the Predator crossover in particular.   This is also still free.

 

Priya’s Shakti - three issues, all free.  This Indian comic is about the abuse of women.  The subject matter may at times be graphic (and therefore triggering), and perhaps it is too preachy, but it is a good series.

 

Lando #1 - this is a spin off of the Solo movie, though it takes place before.  It is everything Star Wars should be.

Other Freebie Image titles

Forgive me for not posting the pics, but my laptop is being fixed, and I’m being lazy.

 

I haven’t read all the other Image books I picked up, but of the ones so far:

 

I Hate Fairyland #1 - okay, I had already this, but seriously this series if brilliant, especially when you get to the Labryinth parody in later issues.  (Read the whole series, I love it so much)

 

The Old Guard #1 - this is the basis for the Netflix movie (?) with Charlize Theron.  The first issue’s artwork I found to be a bit busy, but it does have two strong female leads.  It is an interesting idea.

 

Battlepug #1 - this is funny.  Cohan rides a giant pug, whose name might be Sir Sprinkles Goodsniffer von Wigglebottom.  There is also a parody of Trump in the opening pages.  It is actually pretty great.  If you have already read I Hate Fairyland, you might want to try this.

 

Pathfinder #1 - I’m of mixed feelings about this.  It is done in part with an eye to the role blaming crowd, so it includes character sheets.  The characters are great.  It’s just why does the woman who is the leader wear something that is so exposing when walking though the forest?

 

And of Saga #1 - it is as good as everyone says.

 

Lucy Claire series 1-4

Image Comics has a number of issues for free on ebook.  Mostly, #1s, and one of the ones on offer is Lucy Claire: Redempation.  I read the first issue after picking it up as a freebie, and then brought the next 3 issues.  Issue 5 isn’t out to July 22, and I really do not want to talk about that fact.

 

So Lucy Claire was responsible for pretty much killing a bunch of werewolves (or werewolf like creatures) and then eventually went quiet.  It had something to do with her children.  But then the wolves come back and a Gang of Four tracks down Lucy to get her to come save their town.

 

What is there to love:

 

1. Lucy Claire herself  - a flawed hero, true and in some ways a flawed hero we have already seen, but she is flawed without that “tough as nails exterior that hides a softee” cliche going on.  This makes her more human, and also indicates why she still has friends. She is a woman of color - her grandmother was Japanese (and the story uses the term kami, so) but she is also black.

 

2. The whole cast is diverse in terms of race, gender, and age.  Can’t speak towards sexuality yet.

 

3. The group sent to find her consists of two men and two women.  Witty repartee galore, but, thankfully, no heart eyes or anything.  They work well together.

 

4.  I would die for Olive who would braid your hair while you recover from wounds.  Honesty, if she was with frozen Cap, she would have done quite a bit of work on him.

 

5. The use of werewolves and Japanese myth is great.  Issue #4’s ending (a cliffhanger) ends with a hint that there are also might be some ties to New Orleans and Voodoo. 

 

6. The kick ass action.

 

7.  While a comic book and therefore limited in format, the book does deal with the ramifications of depression and PTSD in a realistic way.  

 

8. The complete lack of sexualiization of the female characters.  I mean they may be wearing shorts but they are not all hanging out.

C'mon and read it. Then send a copy to Ted Cruz and other smucks

Learning from the Germans - Susan Neiman

We do not learn from statues. Despite what some people might think, statues do not come down from their pedestals and give us blow by blow accounts of what happened. This would be somewhat strange as the statues were not present at the times of the events. But who a society erects a statue to is important because it tells you about that society? Just as important is the context in which those statues are displayed. Do later generations, for instance, make a plaque that notes the less than stellar reputations, at least by modern standards. How does one address Jefferson’s demand of rights with his forbidding rights and personhood to those he owned? But it should be addressed simply because the myth is far more dangerous than the truth.

The view of the Confederacy by certain people in the United States is a prime example of this. It is not uncommon, regardless of where you are in the US to encounter a person who will say something along the lines of “slavery wasn’t that bad”. At least the people were fed, they will claim. They had a roof over their head. Or even more unbelievable, they could leave any time they wanted. These same people will tell you that the Civil War was fought over states rights, not slavery.

The same people who, if we are being kind, were never taught that slavery was the first issue in the Constitutions for the confederate states, that if it were state’s rights then the Confederate government would not have taken slaves to work for the army. If we are not being kind, these same people are racist and or white supremist. And these people are the ones who claim that Confederate statues are doing no harm and represent great Americans.

Which is funny because they wanted to leave America so they could own people.

The North of course has its own issues. We are not honest about when slavery started or the impact in terms of the economic. And the North adjected responsibly after the Civil War and allowed the South to control the narrative, including the statues to Confederates, which was largely done by the daughters of the Confederacy.

Neiman’s book points out how radically different this is even from Germany and how it confronted (and confronts) the actions of the country during the Holocaust and Second World War. The book, she says, was originally conceived to include Ireland, and considering how in depth this book was, I really hope she writes it.

Neiman traces the uses of history in both post war Germany states as well as the use of memory after the reunification of the country. Her analysis points out things that you might not be aware of – like the lack of any memorial to the victims of colonization or the lack of a national memorial to say Harriet Tubman. More important, Neiman shows the important of why such a debate and a desire to remove the statues is important. Her tone I engrossing and the book is compelling read.

 

The above was the review I posted on GR, and in the span of less than a day (I think), there has been an illustration of why those statues should come down.  Ted Cruz, the Senator from Texas who looks like he is either a murderer or a child molester, was extremely upset that Nikole Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. It was her work on the 1619 project, which addresses slavery starting from America's founding as colonies.  (I think he was pretty poed at the other winners to, tbh, because the Opera about the Central Park Five won for music, Whitehead won for fiction, and IDA B WELLS got acknowledged, among others).   It is not too surprising that Cruz would get his panties in a twist considering that he is from Texas, a state where the school board standard group saw fit to removed Harriet Tubman from the history books.

 

No, I am not joking.

 

But, yeah, those statues need to go (put them in a museum or a cemetery but not a public memorial).

Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali - D.T. Naine

Third re-read for the World Lit I course I am teaching.

Sundiata might have been the basis for the Lion King (or Hamlet, though there are plenty of reasons why I give source material credit for that story to the Danes and such - but there is a possibility). Unlike the European stories which focus on the son far more than the mother, the Mali epic does a large attempt of backstory for Solgon, who is not one of those wonderous beautiful creatures.

The story is a good quick read, and this version keeps the oral tone of the tale. If you haven't read this, you really should. If everyone in the world knows about Beowulf, they should also know about this.

Seasme Street Round Up

Abby in Wonderland - Dalmatian Press Sesame Street Big Red Riding Hood - Jodie Shepherd, Bob Berry

Abby in Wonderland - good little riff on Alice.  Abby has to find her wand  It was great seeing Oscar as a King.  The cleverness of Carroll's work isn't here but it is not a bad take on it.

 

Big Red Riding Hood - Big Bird has to deliver goods to his grandmother and then he meets Cookie Monster (aka the Big Bad Wolf).  Cookie wants all the strawberries.  Who can blame him, come to think of it?  It was a fun read.

Hans Christian Andersen: The Journey of His LIfe - Heinz Janisch, Maja Kateslic

Disclaimer: Arc via Netgalley

Janisch and Kastelic’s children’s book about the life Hans Christian Andersen is well done and beautifully illustrated.

Janisch structures the story as one that Andersen himself is telling to a young girl as they ride to Copenhagen together in a carriage. The biography is very like Andersen’s “Fairy Tale of My life”. While the biography might be on the simplistic side, it is good and far from general. Andersen’s father’s PTSD is shown. The story of Andersen’s arrival in Copenhagen is showcased with its brave strangeness. Andersen’s complex relationship with the Collins’ family, in particular Edvard, is not dealt with, but this is a children’s book so not that surprising; how could it be in such a format.

Kastelic’s illustrations are beautiful. Not only do they showcase Odense and Copenhagen, but there are little details drawn from the tales. The style itself also reminds one of Andersen’s own tales.

Highly recommended.

Jim C Hines

FYI - Jim C Hines' Kickstarter Goblin Queen is now live.  I love how he has a level where books get given to schools.

JK Rowling

Posted a video of her library where the books are organized by . . . . .

 

 

wait for it

 

 

 

 

are you sure want to know?

 

 

 

because you really don't

 

 

 

I am warning

 

 

 

seriously

 

 

 

 

 

 

She does it by color.  JFC  what is with people?

Fabulous Monsters: Dracula, Alice, Superman, and Other Literary Friends - Alberto Manguel

Alberto Manguel’s book Fabulous Monsters details those fictional characters that he seems to feel the most for. At times it is a stranger list. There is Phoebe Caulfield for one. But it is an international list and that in of itself is a pleasure. Each character gets his/her own essay. The book, like most of Manguel’s work when he writes about reading is engrossing and great fun.


At times, though, it is very strange and, dare I say, very male.


Manguel’s reading of Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty are bit disturbing, off putting. They are not necessarily wrong. But strange. He takes about the seductive power about Red Riding Hood, and while he is not wrong when he calls her both the seduced and seducer, there is something weird about that expression considering that the version Manguel mostly deals with is the Perrault version, which is really about women and sex. He also does not mention the coda in the Grimm version (I can see Angela Carter rapping his knuckles about that), and so there is a disjointed feeling.
The same is true about his reading of Sleeping Beauty where the rape versions are not mentioned, which is strange because there is a French version. It makes for slightly strange reading.

 


But his essays about Alice and Gertrude in particular are absolutely wonderful. His take on Alice is great and his opinion of Gertrude is quite amusing. He also gets you to look at Catcher int eh Rye in different way (besides Holden as an ass). He is one of those people who does feel something for Gertrude.

an essay of memory

With Borges - Alberto Manguel

Long time, heavy readers (ie everyone on this site) all have those "haven't read yet" secrets.  There is usually more than one.  For the longest time, my wasn't not having read To Kill a Mockingbird.  BUT, that is no longer the case.   

 

Currently, this year at least, it is that I haven't read Borges.  I've got a collection of his short fiction in my TBR mountain range, honest.  Just haven't gotten to it yet.   Maybe this year.

 

 

I mean this book makes me want to kick that collection up the TBR peaks, trail, or something - whatever the term is.

 

Manguel's book about Borges is in part a book about memory, part about hanging out with a legend (who does not seem to care that he is a legend) and part an illustration about how reading and books inform and make lives.  In other words, like most of Manguel's work, it is an essay about the loving of reading and how that can make a society.

General Update post and resolution

Been MIA because of a variety of things, most because putting books on this site is a pain and the Corvid-19 led to more work as we have to teach from home.  So hopefully things will get easier.  I am determined to start posting on here more because I miss the gang.  

 

Highlights in reading since whenever:

 

Food City - this book is a history of food in NYC.  I picked it up because the author's Joy Santlofer, wrote a beautiful book about grief.  It was an interesting history and a fun read.

 

Opossum Opposites - picked this up when it was free for kindle and it is quite a little lovely book about opossums.  Really neat.  Loved it.

 

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead - really a great book about an old lady.  And that is all I am going to say about that one because I do not want to ruin it for you.

 

 

Kindle Freebies

 

World Book Day

 

Candlewick has a few new offerings.

 

Diving the Wreck - sci-fi book.  I enjoyed this one.

FYI

Jim C Hines is going to start a Kickstarter soon.

 

And has everyone been "buying" books free or otherwise too?  Because I have.

Still free

Gazpacho for Nacho - Tracey C. Kyle, Carolina Farias

This is an excellent book. I love the use of a family cooking together as well as the recipe and glossary in the back of the book.

Nice little children's book

Biscuit in the Garden - Alyssa Satin Capucilli, Pat Schories

I love the use of the garden and birds in this wonderful children's book.