Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

Rocketo: Journey to the Hidden Sea

RocketoRocketo: Journey to the Hidden Sea, Volume One by Frank Espinosa

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I had never heard of Frank Espinosa until we received this book in the library.  I flipped through it, since the impressionistic artwork caught my attention, and decided to read it.  It’s been nominated for an Eisner, for cryin’ out loud, so I figured it would be worth reading.

Maybe I’m entering into a stage where I’m burnt out on fiction, because that last few books I’ve read just wound up  being duds.  I really enjoyed the artwork of Rocketo, but the story seemed confusing and complicated, and I had a hard time determing what, exactly, I was supposed to be seeing in Espinosa’s art.  In most cases, this works perfectly; the story is set in a future where mutants and odd life forms exist, and the style is perfect for capturing the otherworldly essence of those creatures.  In the action scenes, though, I was confused.

Rocketo is an old-style adventure comic strip, with boxy heroes with strong chins, and more bravado than a John Wayne convention.  The characters are driven, alternately, by their morals, their greed, and their loyalties, and it reminded me a lot of the Indiana Jones movies, which were in turn inspired by the old serial adventure movies from the 1950s.  So, yes, this is definitely an adventure graphic novel; it just wasn’t quite my thing.

If nothing else, browse through the book to admire Espinosa’s artwork.  I love the artistic styles that suggest more than they declare (I’ll still read anything that Duncan Fegredo illustrates), and Espinosa shines at doing just that.  I’d love to see what he and Neil Gaiman could create together.

December 28, 2006 Posted by | Graphic Novels, Reviews | Leave a comment

Lisey’s Story

Lisey’s StoryLisey’s Story by Stephen King

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I used to be a huge Stephen King fanboy, but I think he was replaced when I discovered Neil Gaiman.  I don’t gush over King like I used to; in fact, I’ve stopped buying his books all together, and I used to be first in line at the bookstores when he had a new book out.  I still enjoy his works, but the era of Misery and Pet Sematary and Eyes of the Dragon are gone.  He’s older, wiser, and just as compelling.  But he’s also a lot less interesting.

The book is about Lisey, who lives in Maine, and is the widow of one of the most popular writers ever.  So, yes, this book is pretty autibiographical.  I don’t know how much of it is truth, and how much is fiction, but consider this: King writes that Scott Landon, the deceased writer, never wrote from an outline, and he described writing a book as like finding a string in the forest and following it to its end — sometimes you could find treasure at the end, and other times the string would just break.  I get a real sense that this is how King has written every book since Misery.

Lisey Landon has been mourning her husband for two years, and she’s finally come to the point where she feels she can start cleaning out his study.  While opening the boxes and sorting through all of the materials there, she also opens up memories of her past with Scott, including some things that she had blocked from her memory.  She’s sent on a “bool hunt,” orchestrated by Scott, and featuring her catatonic sister and a psychotic stalker.

In retrospect, everything in the novel is set up to come together properly, without too many loose ends.  What bothers me, though, is that the entire story seems so insubstantial.  There’s the plot of remembering her past with Scott, the plot of dealing with her catatonic sister, and the plot of her trying to outwit her stalker, but none of it really rings with the sort of presence that I expect out of a Stephen King novel.  I’ve always admired his characterization skills, and while they’re still present, there’s simply not much to the story.  The plots seem too thin, and too forced, to gel into something that feels interesting.

I really wanted to like this novel, but I feel like it’s lacking in all of the areas that I’ve always liked about King.  It’s not compelling, it’s not suspenseful, and it’s just not interesting.  There was a moment near the end of the book where King described something with a clarity that made it stand out in disturbing clarity, but that was the only point in the story where I felt he reached that point.  Reviewers are saying that this is one of King’s best books, but I just don’t see it.

December 28, 2006 Posted by | Adult Fiction, Reviews | Leave a comment

The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog

BarryThe Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry

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I like Dave Barry’s fiction.  To be honest, I was surprised at how much I like it.  I expected the novels to be a bit clunky, since he is primarily a writer of nonfiction, but I liked how he made the zany and the dangerous work side-by-side.  This was long before I read anything by Carl Hiaasen, so I didn’t realize that there was already something like that out there to read.

The Shepherd… is a nice diversion, but it’s not the greatest book I’ve ever read.  It’s short, and sweet, and captures a little bit of the sense of Christmas, along with the wacky humor that Barry’s known for.  But, ultimately, it’s not a great story.  There are some aspects of the story that seem forced, and, even granting that the book is less than 150 pages long (with illustrations), there’s not much to the story at all.

The story is about Doug Barnes, a 13 year-old boy who’s trying to win the girl of his dreams while playing a part in the local Christmas pageant.  He wants to play Joseph, because Judy Flanders is playing Mary, but instead that part goes to the new, popular boy in the school.  He also has an ailing dog, who has been a part of the family longer than Doug has.  There’s a lot of potential here, but it seems forced and rushed, and there are too many plot points that just seem to resolve themselves.  I hate to sound cynical about a book about Christmas, but it seems that this was rushed to publication in order to make some money off of the season.

I don’t think this will become a classic like A Christmas Story or It’s a Wonderful Life, but it’s very much a Dave Barry story, and the antics of the Wise Men alone is worth the time to read the book.  It’s probably worth reading if you like Barry’s sense of humor, but don’t expect it to be the next Christmas Carol, either.

December 28, 2006 Posted by | Adult Fiction, Reviews | Leave a comment