Thursday, May 6, 2010
This book is simply awesome! It was something that I could not put down and was the first book I was able to read in a long time that didn’t in some way have to do with art, school, or assignments. I had this on my shelf for four years, and finally, I had to take the time to read this. David Sedaris has such a memorable way of writing, and his timing is pitch perfect. This is one of those books that feels as if it fills the whole room, meaning that it absorbs you in its dialogue. I was laughing and retelling stories to everyone I knew and encountered on a daily basis. Even as annoying as I might have been, if I garnered a few more Sedaris followers and introduced people to what the title of this novel means, it is something I can rest peacefully with knowing.
Seriously, do yourself a favor, read Me Talk Pretty One Day, or listen to it on audio book being as Sedaris has a great voice. Otherwise, the only way I would consider you not wanting to read this book would be if you don’t like laughing, which is very sad indeed. In this case I recommend that you read this as a tragedy instead of a comedy.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Even though this is long overdue, I feel the need to relay some of my experiences with this year’s Writer’s Conference on New Media. The first day of the writer’s conference was back-to-back events for me beginning with the noon panel and ending with the evening discussion between Dr. Jack Weinstein and Art Spiegelman. In between these events, I with a few other students from UND were fortunate to be able to have lunch with Spiegelman, and I attended the question and answer session held at Hughes Fine Arts. Overall, it was a busy day, and Spiegelman graciously answered all questions with a thoroughness that divulged not only his knowledge of his subject, but his ultimate kinship and dedication to it.
What was most refreshing was Spiegelman’s frankness. Throughout all of the events that I participated in, the constant was that Spiegelman truly believes in the medium of comix and the graphic novel. The noon panel was an opportunity to listen to three artists speak on the topic “Are Books Obsolete?” Deena Larson, Cecilia Condit, and Spiegelman discussed a range of topics including, new media and new readership, payment in the advent of new media, and the issues surrounding context, content, and comparison between books, and printed materials to that of new or electronic media sources. Prompted by Victor Lieberman—another one of UND’s awesome librarians—this event was insightful as to the discussion of looking at new media as a category of its own and not as a replacement of integral forms of media within our society. Ultimately, the book holds its own place in the world, and I was glad to hear that others thought so as well. It would be sad to lose books to the bowels of ancient history.
The next stop in the day was lunch with Spiegelman. It should be noted that the employees at the REAC Center’s Dakota Harvest were very friendly, helpful, and accommodating to our small group. Spiegleman talked of everything from his breakdown, the fuel for his writings, gave sound advice for people entering the art world, and talked a little about R.Crumb. I asked him specifically about the difference between publishing and curating, and what it boiled down to was context. Context is vital to the way in which the work is viewed, but ultimately what I gathered was that context is an important consideration in maintaining the integrity of a work. For instance, as mentioned by Spiegelman, what might look good in a newspaper, would not necessarily function well on a museum wall, and some things need a wall to communicate effectively. Overall, the lunch was a great opportunity and one that Professor Joel Jonientz of the Department of Art and Design set up and made sure was an engaging.
During the question and answer event at Hughes Fine Arts Center, I asked Spiegelman about his influence from a different media: painting. He began by expressing that at one time he harbored a strong divide between high and low art. Spiegelman had a professor who dragged him into a museum to look at paintings and Spiegelman’s encounters with Picasso bridged a way for him to think about form both within comix and painting. As a painter and avid sketcher I think it is important to recognize the relationships between mediums, and to note how interdisciplinary most programs are. The influences that artists have are most unlikely, and it is interesting to note that many times these relationships are unsolicited, and sometimes unwanted at the time. As a student, it was a great opportunity to hear this from an art world professional, and it was just as reassuring to know it was coming from a person who appeared to speak with sincerity.
This sincerity carried through to the evening as Spiegelman gave his Comix 101 presentation. His value for history was invigorating as he illustrated the means by which comics and graphic novels have been an important factor not only in the art world and popular culture, but also to our collective memory. I think that the exploration of collective history and personal memory are some of the most potent information that Spiegelman offered throughout the day. This, and that comix are an extension of the way that the human brain is wired to think. And certainly, like he stated in the question and answer panel from the afternoon, “Only I can do wrong the right way”, Spiegelman most definitely has his grasp on comix in the very right of ways.
A reception in honor of the Writer’s Conference followed at the North Dakota Museum of Art. Needless to say, after this I was glad to go home and find a warm meal and a nice pillow. This year’s Writer’s conference was one that was eclectic and forward thinking, which is an excellent way to continue any long-standing tradition.
April 12, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Book: Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale, My Father Bleeds History
Author: Art Spiegelman
Genre: Graphic Novel
As suggested by Professor Jennifer Nelson, I first read Maus I at the end of the spring semester of the 2007-2008 school year. In fact, this was my first graphic novel experience, and one that I believe shaped the standard for which I read and judge graphic novels to the present day. Art Spiegelman’s execution and exaction is nothing short of amazing. Spiegelman is able to mesh personal memory and collective experience with grace concerning a subject that references a horrendous time in the scope of human history. Despite the atrocities during the Holocaust and the events preceding and following it, Spiegelman, with the voice of his father seems to express the way that personal histories and experiences collide to create a collective memory. Reading Maus I is proof that great writers and novels still exist. Furthermore, this is a novel worth reading, and one that I am absolutely positive will always remain at the top of my book lists.
Book: Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale, And Here My Troubles Began
I recently finished Maus II, and found that it was equally enthralling as the first of the two novels by Art Spiegelman. In this second part, Spiegelman describes the events that his father tells of Auschwitz, and the events of his survival. In addition, Spiegelman weaves in the experience he has of his father’s bouts with old age, and the changes that develop in their relationship. This graphic novel is one that I wish would not end simply because of the deliberateness in voice, the immediacy through which the experiences are translated, and the way that visuals and text are married to relay the very humanness of our actions and experiences. This humanness is important because in the end the reader is left to experience what only the best pieces of literature and art ever evoke—a need to be better and a conscious want to be knowledgeable about our experiences, collective memory, and personal history.
Note: Art Spiegelman will be at UND in a couple of weeks for Writer's Conference!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Editor/Publisher: Tate Publishing
Genre: Artist Retrospective
This is a wonderful survey of the careers of the artist duo Peter Fischli and David Weiss. Known for their humor, these two artists are completely at home in multiple mediums including installation, sculpture, photography, and of course film. I recommend becoming familiar with some of their works before delving into this retrospective which features essays by John Waters, Robert Fleck, and Frederic Tuten, just to mention a few. Some of my favorite work of Fischli and Weiss is their work with cold cuts.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I was excited to dive into this hefty book and I was indeed carried away by this Greek Epic. I thought of the stories and trials of my own ancestors who passed through Ellis Island hoping for a better life in America. I was blessed to be born into middle class America in the late 1960s. The narrator Cal was blessed and cursed by his/her bloodlines. Growing up in the same era I recognized the aftermath of race riots that convinced our parents to flee to the suburbs, yet I was also easily transported to Asia Minor and Prohibition era Detroit through Eugenides' skillfull writing. His candid and unemotional treatment of hermaphroditism bordered on clinical but also made the story seem true. I half-wanted to use the library resources to see if Cal's case is indeed documented in medical accounts. The human story of Cal's family is what truly engaged me though and made the book an engrossing read.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
November is a month full of interesting things. Veterans Day gives us a chance to recognize and remember those who have served the U.S. in the armed services. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, not only for the food and the Macy's parade, but for the chance to pause and reflect on how good life really is.
But November is also National Novel Writing Month, and all over the world people are bent over their keyboards, cranking out words upon words. The deal with NaNoWriMo, as it's fondly called, is that the participants each try to get 50,000 onto paper in a fairly coherent fashion in one month--November.
Are you signed up for NaNoWriMo? Let me know and we'll try to get a gathering together. A write-in!
Have a good November and always have a book to read!
Friday, September 25, 2009
If you want to read it, ask to have it held when it's returned. If we see requests for it, we'll get more copies.
We're heading into a new ordering season of books for Popular Reading, so as always, if there's something you want to read, just comment here. We look at the comments before publishing them (not that we think you're going to get, well, you know, but this way you can make a request and it won't appear on the blog--we respect your privacy).
We hope your semester is going well. Enjoy the weather, use hand sanitizer, and always have a book to read!