books i read in guatemala

i love good non-fiction. but i need a bit of story here and there. and, lately, i’ve been craving some fiction. this week i finished The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. it’s a very creative story of a man with a chromosomal abnormality that causes him to time-travel (mostly back in time, some foreward) spontaneously. sounds like science-fiction, i know, but that’s not really the tone. it’s primarily a love story, with strong themes of longing and waiting and life-values. karla yac had read it, and found it reflected so much of her mike-stuff. i saw that in the first chapter, but then didn’t see it again for much of the book. but the last chapter just about slayed me!

then, i read three illustrated books. i love illustrated books (i suppose you can call them comics — but they’re full books, novels with full illustrations). a month or two ago, time magazine had a list of 5 illustrated books they were highly recommeding, so i bought three of ’em:
Ice Haven, by Daniel Clowes. a collection of odd little people in the fictional town of ice haven, all trying to find a bit of meaning in life. really enjoyable.
Why Are You Doing This?, by Jason. the weirdest of the group, in terms of illustration. his “human” characters all have animal heads — mostly dog heads. i suppose you could call this book a murder-mystery. but what i really enjoyed (in addition to how much emotion and lack-of-emotion the author/artist can convey in the line-drawn face of a dog!) was the — warning, this is going to sound pretentious — humany of the characters, specifically, the goodness of the characters.
and, my favorite of the three was Ordinary Victories, by Manu Larcenet. it’s also the longest of the three (which gives a bit more space for character development). the illustration is fantastic — really adds to the book. there were many pages where i enjoyed just staring at the drawings for a while, as you would in a museum. it’s the story of a nominally-depressed guy named marco (hey!) who’s trying to find his way, amidst a struggling photography career, a dying father, deep questions about good and evil and redemption and change, and a tempermental cat. i highly recommend this book.

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