Grown-up comics

For the last few weeks I was stuck for what to read, despite having about 12 unread books on my shelves. (Do not panic, I’m not throwing money around, they were all rescued from dusty cases at the very back of several op shops.) Unbearable frustration is when after flipping through the first 10 pages of a book, you go “Neeaahh!” and have to put it back. Only to find the same process repeated with the other 11 books. To the point where I deliberately stayed away from my bookcase. So you could guess how irritated I was, until I accidentally saw this graphic novel at our local library:

The Story of a Childhood [Marjane Satrapi]

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (by Marjane Satrapi)

And holy macaroni! It was so good, so refreshing, so like how a fish feels being thrown back into water, that I gobbled it up in 3 hours straight. Then re-read it at a slower a pace the next day and paid more attention to the drawings. That’s my way of reading comics, in the rare chances that I do tackle them. The first time I’d be too anxious to follow the storyline, so I skim through all the words the usual way I read a novel. Instant gratification. After that I’d dig in a bit deeper and enjoy the actual graphics.

Persepolis is beautiful in so many ways. Informative, touching, humorous. You have to read it yourself! So entranced was I, that I had to rush to the library the day after, and borrowed Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return. So now I’ve got a new mission for my Book Dream: collect both volumes. Since my self-imposed book ban of last year, due to a Shortage in Monetary Funding and a Deficit in Storage Solution (plain English: no money, no space on bookshelf), I’ve been much more selective in buying books and only fork out money for those I’d love to read again. (Please note the use of words, “I’d love to”, not “I will”.)

Meanwhile, to quench my thirst for the written words, there are at least 3 large local libraries within 10 minutes drive of our home. If that’s not a bookworm’s heaven, then it is at least the heaven’s front yard. Another good thing — or not so good thing, depending how you look at it — is that at public libraries, more often then not there’s a humongous queue clamouring to borrow the best-sellers and new realease’s. So instead of trying to squeeze in as the 18th person the reserve list, what I often do is to search for older books by the same authors. And to this date, I still stick to my theory that a writer’s first book is most often their best, regardless of the order you read their books. I’d stand to be corrected but so far, that’s almost always the case.

Anyway, coincidentally, at the same time I spotted Persepolis 1 on the racks, I was also carrying Audrey Niffenegger‘s two picture novels towards the loan desk. She’s the author of my all time favourite “The Time Traveller’s Wife” — the book I’ve raved about for God knows how many times! I’m only a bit peeved that I had to google the spelling of Ms. Audrey’s surname every time. And don’t even ask me how to say it. My tongue would jump out of my mouth and go limp on the ground in protest.

The Adventuress

Her visual books, “The Adventuress” and “The Three Incestuous Sisters“, are two painstakingly beautiful works of art. Many paintings, very few words. Quite challenging to read because after the 1st skimming session I went “Is that it?“. But then again, layers, folks. It’s all in the different levels of meaning. And the more you examine it, the more marvellous it becomes. (But I must admit that sadly, my dumb brain didn’t get very far.) Also to learn about how the original version of the book was hand printed and hand bound, using various traditional techniques, got me squirming with desire. (Not in that way, fish your mind out of the gutter! Haha.) I really wouldn’t mind them on my shelf. She’s a true artist, that girl!

I know I’ll be scouring the libraries and second hand bookshops for more books like the above.

~some kind of wonderful~


3 thoughts on “Grown-up comics

  1. I used to be a member of four libraries when I was at school – three in Gateshead and the Newcastle Central. I’d regularly max out my card for each of them and finish the whole lot in the 3 weeks I was allowed.

    Then I started driving rather than taking public transport. My reading dropped to maybe one book a week. It’s good to be travelling again. On the beach in India I was reading a book a day.


  2. long comment was deleted.
    So btw, what i was talking about is the first book by Satrapi I read was Embroideries…totally hilarrrrrious. Have you checked it out yet or can you find it in your library? Persepolis has been on my amazon wish list for a long while now, but I have been lazy in ordering books these days. I actually ordered the movie but before it got to my mail, my netflix movie renting account was cancelled..boohoo.
    Sorrie if I offend you but The Time Traveller’s Wife is one of my very-excited-to-start-but-then-frustratedly-put-down-after-flipping-thru-10-pages-and-“Nahhh” books, not that I didnt try again. I did, several times, but never got thru the first few chapters hehehehe. Don’t murder me pleaseeeee

  3. ~ hey Mosh,
    Yeah I’m a library junkie too. (sounds awfully cool doesn’t it? hehe) But most of the time can’t finish all the books i borrow, even after renewing them twice.
    Maaan, a book a day on a beach in India! Do you need to make me even more envious, you travelling bookworm you?! =P

    ~ Bella my dear,
    No offence taken. And I will put away my gun! hehe 🙂
    But what a coincidence that is, because it actually happened to me the first time I read The Time Traveller’s Wife as well. Lost interest after the first few chapters so it sat on my shelves for some months. But the second time I soldiered on, and it was like “OMG how could I have missed this?!” 🙂 True story!
    I think it was the different scenarios happening in different times that make it too confusing. But once you get the hang of it, it’s a heartbreakingly beautiful story. Your cousin K. loved it a lot too.
    But then again, some books grow on you, and some kinda just fizzle out. Like “Atonement”, for me somehow it just didn’t cut it.
    Ooh I will have to look for Embroideries. Thanks for the tip up! Yeah and I heard about the Persepolis movie as well. Can’t wait to go see it.

    hmm did your comment get deleted? I wonder what happened. Here’s praying WordPress isn’t turning into another 360*!

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