Hark! A Vagrant–Kate Beaton
Kate Beaton is my favorite comic artist working today. What’s so great about her? First off, her background in literature and history give her a supply of topics that goes way beyond the navel-gazing of many of her contemporaries. Secondly, her drawing style is flat-out hilarious. She draws sexy hunks and traitor babies and obscure figures from Canadian history better than anyone. And thirdly, she somehow managed to skewer musician John Mayer in a comic about the French Revolution. I never would’ve guessed that possible, but Kate Beaton found a way and earned a fan for life in the process. I laughed aloud at least a half dozen times while reading Hark! A Vagrant and highly recommend it.
Cats I Have Lived With–Beth
Beth wrote and illustrated a book about all the pet cats she’s had in her life. She then printed up a hardback copy on a self-publishing website and gave it to me for my birthday. I enjoyed the book so much that I read it twice. You can read her WordPress post dated August 15th for more information about this charming book.
A Game of Hide and Seek–Elizabeth Taylor
This is the second NYRB Classics novel I’ve read this year about what happens to love when the couple is separated by distance and time and then reunite later in life. The other book, Stefan Zweig’s Journey Into the Past, read like it had been written by a man who’d never kissed a woman. There was just something false and made-up about it. Elizabeth Taylor’s book, on the other hand, felt painfully honest and featured sections that I suspect must’ve been taken from real-life. A Game of Hide and Seek is the better book in every important way and one of the best serious novels I’ve read this summer. Oh, and it makes reference to one of my favorite movies, David Lean’s Brief Encounter. Points for that.
If after 420 pages, the entire book comes down to whether one of the characters plays the flute, then there is something seriously wrong. It doesn’t even matter if it’s a creepy magic flute made out of a human bone. The fact that there’s a flute at all is a sure sign that major mistakes have been made somewhere along the way. This ninth and final book in Kat Richardson’s Greywalker series is, by far, her worst effort yet. It’s truly a shame as the series had such potential early on.
Now that the series is over, I’d like to quickly revisit what I had to say about the first eight books. (This was going to be a stand-alone post, but I’ve decided to include it here.)
- Greywalker: If you’re interested in the paranormal, but aren’t a fourteen year-old girl with a crush on a fictional vampire, then you might want to look into the series.
- Poltergeist: Kat Richardson’s writing gets confusing whenever Harper enters the Grey. I’m not sure if it’s sloppy writing or if the author is trying to convey a sense of the nebulous nature of the Grey.
- Underground: The third book, Underground, is definitely my favorite of the three I’ve read. It’s about what lives (and kills) in the boarded up areas beneath Pioneer Square.
- Vanished: Although I liked Greywalker and Underground, I’d have to say that Vanished is my favorite book in the series.
- Labyrinth: Harper’s boyfriend Quinton has the ability to make machines that can detect paranormal activity. You’d have to be pretty smart to do that, right? Then why does it take him three paragraphs to realize that the items on the top of a box were placed inside after the items on the bottom? It seems like the concept of stacking would be an easy one for a guy who can make ghost detectors out of parts bought from Radio Shack.
- Downpour: Kat Richardson’s sixth Greywalker novel was better than her fifth, but I wonder what was going through her head when she wrote pages 262-3. I’ve heard that there’s an organization that gives a Bad Sex Award to the author who has published that year’s worst sex scene. I’m going to try to find them online and nominate those two pages.
- Seawitch: 3½ stars (out of 5)
- Possession: Kat Richardson isn’t the worst author I’ve ever read, but she’s definitely the least talented one I’ve read eight books by.
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere–ZZ Packer