Book Review: Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel


Author: Alison Bechdel
Title: Are You My Mother? 
Publication Info: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2012)
ISBN: 9780618982509

Previously Read By the Same Author: Fun Home

Summary/Review:  The follow-up to Fun Home, Bechdel’s graphic biography of her father, this book deals with Bechdel’s complicated relationship with her mother. It’s actually about a lot more than that as center to the story is the process of Bechdel writing the story about her father and how that was troubling to her mother. Psychology is also central to the narrative as Bechdel details decades of sessions with her therapists and the book is heavily illustrated with quotes from the writing of the psychologist Donald Winnicot. My favorite aspect of Fun Home was how Bechdel worked in literary allusions into her story and that is at play here, most fantastically in she compares Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own with the plexiglass dome in Dr. Seuss’ Sleep Book. The psychology stuff is rather heavy and kind of weighs down the story that it makes it less perfect than Fun Home for me, but nevertheless an excellent examination of the human condition.

Recommended BooksTo the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Rating: ***

Book Review: City : a guidebook for the urban age by P.D. Smith


Author: P.D. Smith
Title: City : a guidebook for the urban age
Publication Info:   Bloomsbury Press (2012)
ISBN: 9781608196760

Summary/Review:  This is kind of a coffee table book for urbanists depicting humanity’s greatest invention – the city!  The book is split into bit size chapters about different aspects of the city from public parks to public transportation, from skyscrapers to the street, and from coffehouses to hotels.  The books spans history and the globe seemingly try to create a city in the pages with snapshots of what makes up the city.

Favorite Passages:

“Look above the shopfronts and you begin to sense the history of the original buildings: exposed beams, time-roughened brickwork as red-raw as abraded skin, a plaque recording a creative life spent in a building, faded lettering advertising a long-defunct product.  As you stand in the high street, to the ubiquitous CCTV cameras you are just one more figure among the crowds of shoppers, someone with time to kill and money to spend.  But as you begin to notice these traces of the past and read the urban text, the city starts to come alive. You become part of its history, more than a mere consumer of products.  You are ready to begin a journey that can take you back to the roots of civilisation itself.  It is time to start walking.” – p. 171

“Creative cities are edgy places, where conservative, traditional forces collide with new, radical ideas in a shower of brilliant sparks.  Great cities are complex, even disorderly, cosmopolitan communities.  They are certainly not the easiest or safest places in which to live (housing conditions in Athens were far from ideal).  Such cities are often overwhelming and intense environments.  But this is often why they are such creative places. After all, it’s the irritant of sand in an oyster that produces a pearl.” – p. 253

Rating: **1/2

Book Review: Doctor Who. Series 2, Volume 1, The Ripper by Tony Lee


Author: Tony Lee
Title: Doctor Who. Series 2, Volume 1, The Ripper
Publication Info: IDW Publishing (2011)
ISBN: 9781600109744
Summary/Review: The Eleventh Doctor accompanied by Amy and Rory visit Victorian Whitechapel and find themselves in the midst of the Jack the Ripper killings where the Ripper is <SPOILERS> an alien! </SPOILERS>  Another enjoyable comic adventure for Doctor Who.

Rating: **1/2

 

Book Review: Doctor Who. Volume 3, Final sacrifice by Tony Lee


Author: Tony Lee
Title: Doctor Who. Volume 3, Final sacrifice
Publication Info: IDW Publishing (2011)
ISBN: 9781600108464
Summary/Review:  The conclusion of the story begun in Fugitive and Tesseract finds the Tenth Doctor, his allies and enemies on a planet caught in endless civil war.  The actions of the Doctor will determine whether the cycle will be broken but requires confounding choices and sacrifice.  The comic format allows for a visual imagination that would not likely be convincing in a televised format but on the other hand the dialogue seems spare and simplistic.  Still, this is a great adventure and addition to the Doctor Who oeuvre.

Rating: **1/2

 

Book Review: Doctor Who. Volume 2, Tesseract by Tony Lee


Author: Tony Lee
Title: Doctor Who. Volume 2, Tesseract
Publication Info: IDW Publishing (2010)
ISBN: 9781600107566
Summary/Review: The Tenth Doctor’s adventures from Fugitive continue with his new companions Emily and Matt heading on divergent paths.  Emily becomes a stronger character driven to action while Matt consumed by jealousy is drawn to evil.  There’s also a 5D spaceship, Martha Jones and UNIT, and Greenwich Park under attack by trees. As I noted on the previous volume, the comic format allows for a visual imagination that would not likely be convincing in a televised format but on the other hand the dialogue seems spare and simplistic.

Rating: **1/2