Sunday, November 1, 2009

Reading List: October 2009

Almost no new content here over the past month, though there are two ways to look at that. The first is that no content means no readers, which does not bode well for a blog that I am struggling to figure out what to do with anyway. However, I did write about 20,000 words this month as I finished my Master's thesis and successfully defended it, so it is not as if I did nothing.

Yet the former is what I have been mulling the past few days. A big problem I have with this space is that I don't really know what it is here for. I occasionally post reviews of books I read or films I see, but those reviews vary not only in quality but in substance as well. There seems to be no unifying theme, save me, and while the readers here are all people I know from elsewhere so no problem is immediately apparent, no one drops in here via Google and sticks around because they have no relationship with me and no attachment therefore to the content.

So my goal in the next month is twofold: one, revise and submit my thesis to the graduate college; and two, decide what, if anything, I want to continue to do with this space. It needs to be about something, or what's the point?

Last month I finished only 12 books/graphic novels/plays:
  • Swamp Thing: Reunion by Alan Moore, et al.
  • The Walking Dead: Safety Behind Bars by Robert Kirkland & Charlie Adlard
  • The Great Movies by Roger Ebert
  • The Last Generation by Andrew Steven Harris & Gordon Purcell
  • Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Troublesome Minds by Dave Galanter
  • Omega the Unknown by Jonathan Lethem & Farel Dalrymple
  • Final Crisis by Grant Morrison & J.G. Jones
  • Fables: The Dark Ages by Bill Willingham, et al.
  • God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza
  • Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? by Neil Gaiman & Andy Kubert
  • Reasons to be Pretty by Neil LaBute
Further updates as events warrant.


JR said...

I don't know what you should do, but The Suppling Mind of Gary Rees appears to still be in a training bra.

Brendan Moody said...

I'm curious as to what you thought of the Gaiman Batman story.

Jonathan Polk said...

Sorry to take so long to respond to this, Brendan. I suppose I liked Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, though I felt the title's homage misleads the reader into thinking they are getting a certain type of story.

I expected the voice that Bruce was talking to in the first issue to be revealed as one of the Endless, the obvious one, esp. since Gaiman took pains in the intro to remind the reader that the his famous family resides w/i the same universe as Batman. But as devices go, I suppose the reveal worked well enough.

But while I think this works as a Gaiman story, and I certainly appreciate it on that level, I am unsure that it really works as a Batman story, at least a mainline one that is supposed to wrap up the Bruce Wayne incarnation of the character. Moore's Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? felt like a fitting end to an era, but in an era in which stories like this one (in which a huge departure from conventional narrative) is commonplace, reading this doesn't feel like the conclusion of anything. And I honestly suspect that it isn't, at least not in the same way that the Silver Age ended and led to Byrne's Man of Steel.

Brendan Moody said...

a mainline one that is supposed to wrap up the Bruce Wayne incarnation of the character

Is that really what it's supposed to do?

I think it's telling that where "Man of Tomorrow" was determinedly a final story within its continuity, "Caped Crusader" is about circularity, about the fact that the story never really ends. Crisis on Infinite Earths, to which "Man of Tomorrow" tied in, was a big deal, a kind of change that had never happened before, so Moore's story plays on that sense of consequence. Today there's a universe-spanning crisis every five minutes and everyone knows that things will go back to the way they were, so Gaiman doesn't pretend that there's any way this is the last Bruce Wayne story.

Does Gaiman's title, with its allusion to the Moore work, create expectations of such a "final" story? Possibly, I guess.