What blows my mind about this book is how incredibly readable and accessible it is, considering the fact that it was written over a century ago. Frederick Douglass was a fugitive slave and a prominent leader of the abolitionist movement. While in captivity, Douglass worked hard to teach himself how to read and write, viewing literacy and education as his means to freedom.
“Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will… Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get.”
The narrative discusses Douglass’s experiences as both a plantation slave and a personal family slave in the city, working skilled labor and paying his wages to his master. I never knew how drastically different the conditions were from plantation to city, and the book provides a lot of detail that is often lost in a general history of American slavery.
The appendix also contained an incredibly powerful criticism of how pervasive religion was among the Southern slaveholding populace, calling out slave owners on their hypocrisy. Everything about this narrative was just incredible, and it is a wonderful historical piece to study.
Frederick Douglass truly lives up to his reputation for having a gift for storytelling and his writing is powerful, I wish I could’ve heard him speak. He is one of the most admirable historical figures I’ve encountered and I regret not reading this book sooner. If there was one memoir I could ever recommend to anyone on the subject of slavery, it would be this one.
Warnings: violence, racism
The Great Gatsby is one of the classics that I somehow missed in high school, and though it is well-loved it was one that I never felt compelled to read. Maybe I just wasn’t that interested in the roaring twenties, but there was nothing about the various descriptions that I had read that pulled me in. I even skipped the film adaptations, I just can’t explain why I had no interest in this story.
Despite that, when I was offered the opportunity to read a graphic novel adaptation, and my husband expressed to me how much he enjoyed the novel, I decided to give it a try. Heavens how wrong I was to skip over this story for so long! I ended up flying through the graphic novel, I ate up the story and immediately ordered a copy of the novel as soon as I finished.
Since this is an adaptation of a piece of classical literature, I will not comment on the story itself since I have yet to read the novel. However, I do want to cover how well this graphic novel does at adapting the story.
The art is excellent, it reminds me of older drawing styles that are fitting for the time period. The pages are beautifully watercolored and are bursting with fun details and color, Gatsby’s parties look whimsical and wild. Where the adaptation suffers is in the format itself, where much of the story is shown to us in pictures instead of told through narrative. There is some dialogue to carry the story, and random blocks of narration, while artfully placed in the background, make the story feel like there are some holes. It makes the reading experience feel a bit like an abbreviated version of the story, showing the major events like a storyboard without any of the detail in between.
Despite this, I feel that a graphic novel adaptation is great because it introduces a wide audience to classic literature in a way that is easy to digest. It helped an uninterested reader like me to take an interest in reading the original work and that I feel is the major goal of any adaptation. In all, I’m thankful to this graphic novel for expanding my horizons, and it is one that I would gladly recommend.
“She was appalled by West Egg—appalled by the two obtrusive fate that herded its inhabitants along a shortcut from nothing to nothing.”
Trigger Warning: Mild Violence, Infidelity
Also by this author: There’s Nothing Wrong With Me, Prologue-Gymnopedies-
Henshin no News is a collection of one-shot stories that explore human relationships and loneliness. It is an extremely experimental slice of life manga that comes to life due to Miyazaki’s unusual art style and expert storytelling in a relatively small package.
“It’s only when it’s time for goodbyes that I finally come to like everyone.”
Like most manga in the slice of life genre, many of the situations that the characters deal with are relatively mundane, but what sets this manga apart is that there is this element of the fantastical that removes the stories and the characters from reality. At times bordering on being absurd, Miyazaki weaves magical realism into her narrative smoothly and doesn’t compromise the central theme of relationships.
Each story has a character facing some form of a crisis and meditates on humanity’s propensity for loneliness and isolation. What is truly magnificent about this manga however is the way that humor is used to cut the tension, giving the collection a pure and dreamy feel. The last story in particular was fantastic for referencing manga legend Osamu Tezuka and it had me smiling from ear to ear.
While a little offbeat, Henshin no News is a hidden gem and I’ve never read anything quite like it. It subverted my expectations with every story and managed to make me feel extremely sad for each character while also making me laugh. It is a breath of fresh air and managed to be both serious and lighthearted at the same time.
I thought that I couldn’t love Stephen King any more than I already do being a long time fan of his short stories, but damn do I love when he writes non-fiction. Guns is a no-nonsense essay about gun violence in America, focusing on mass shootings and the factors that contribute to them.
“Semi-automatics have only two purposes. One is so owners can take them to the shooting range once in awhile, yell yeehaw, and get all horny at the rapid fire and the burning vapor spurting from the end of the barrel. Their other use – their only other use – is to kill people.”
He doesn’t hold back and he talks pretty frankly on the topic. Specifically, he details the difficulties we have in America with political discourse (and the utter lack thereof) which prevents us from really enacting any kind of meaningful change. I wish that people both on the left and the right of the political spectrum could take a minute to settle down, put their differences and their personal pride aside to pull us all together, put on our thinking caps, and think about some reasonable action to make our every day lives safer.
King also takes some time aside to talk about his first story, which he has since taken out of print, a book about a high school shooting called Rage. He discusses where he was when he wrote it, why he took it out of print and makes a strong argument against the assumption that America is ruled by “a culture of violence.” This point in particular I find important as certain forms of media (most commonly video games) are often blamed for gun violence, despite numerous studies that dispel this myth. He also makes a pretty strong argument on the debate on where culpability lies: the person or the weapon.
“We’re like drunks in a barroom. No one’s listening because everyone is too busy thinking about what they’re going to say next, and absolutely prove that the current speaker is so full of shit he squeaks.”
While King is slightly leaning to the left, he takes a middle road approach to most of his stances and offers suggestions on what can be done, and I agree with him wholeheartedly. This essay was great; it’s a quick read and I would strongly recommend it to anyone with even the slightest interest in the gun issue, both those that are for and against gun control. Even if you don’t agree with him, I think it’s a good conversation starter, as opposed to both sides just yelling at each other without trying to consider compromise.