Through the Woods

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Through the Woods is a graphic novel written and illustrated by Emily Carroll. Is she related to Lewis Carroll? No, according to my extensive research (a “Is Emily Carroll related to Lewis Carroll?” Google search yielded no results)

Have a look at the awards/ nominations:

  • Bram Stoker Award Nominee for Best Graphic Novel (2014)
  • Milwaukee County Teen Book Award (2015)
  • Green Carnation Prize Nominee for Longlist (2014)
  • Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for Best Graphic Album-Reprint (2015)

The eerie cover gives you an idea of what’s to come. A limited palette of black and white with a splotch of red reminiscent of what lies beneath our skins and what we’re afraid to expose. This book consists of five spooky short stories which come to life with Emily’s haunting artwork. If one were to simply narrate the stories, it would be quite a damp squib. Sample this marvelous art:

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One of my favourite stories was “My Friend Janna”, a story about two friends who would “speak to the dead”.

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What makes this collection of stories even more riveting is that they’re loose-ended. And I love stories like that, which leave room for imagination. I would suggest you to steer clear of it if you like your stories with a definite ending.

Before you buy it, have a look at her website and you’ll get a fair idea if you’ll like it or not.

And here’s one of the stories featured in her book.

 

Recommended for: Lovers of short stories, horror and beautiful art

Rating: 6.8/ 10

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The Argonauts

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I dove into this book not knowing what an argonaut was. I couldn’t help imagining an astronaut in a black comedy set in deep space (Fargo + Astronaut). I must admit that I didn’t even look up the meaning because it’s more fun to not know the word and deduce the meaning from context, right? Right? Just me? Okay.

The Argonauts, written by Maggie Nelson, is a minuscule 143 pages; but this small book packs quite a punch. It documents the life of a queer family, something I haven’t experienced first hand. Reading it felt like exploring a new world. A world where you’re forced to think about things you’d taken for granted as a straight person: your gender, your identity, sex, love.

A day or two after my love pronouncement, now feral with vulnerability, I sent you the passage from Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes in which Barthes describes how the subject who utters the phrase “I love you” is like “the Argonaut renewing his ship during its voyage without changing its name.” Just as the Argo’s parts may be replaced over time but the boat is still called the Argo, whenever the lover utters the phrase “I love you,” its meaning must be renewed by each use, as “the very task of love and of language is to give to one and the same phrase inflections which will be forever new.

The book is filled with passages as this, which make you ponder. The following quote highlights the importance of a mother, which elicited a surprised laugh from me.

You, reader, are alive today, reading this, because someone once adequately policed your mouth exploring.

Have any of us thanked our mothers enough for their successful mouth policing? I know what I’m going to write on my Mother’s Day card.

If you are interested in a witty read about gender, love, family in a queer setting this book’s right up your alley.

Rating: 6.9/ 10

 

How to be a Person in the World

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I love reading advice columns. It reminds me that others have problems too and we all share a common problem-having trait. Also, I’m a bit of snoop and will spy on neighbours and pursue eavesdropping as a sport. But some things that irk me about advice columns is that they tend to be biased and the advice seems generic and well, useless.

“How to be a person in the world” is written by Heather Havrilesky. She is the author of the weekly advice column Ask Polly, featured on New York magazine’s The Cut. The book is full of profanity and sage advice, an interesting combination. The questions range from love to STDs to bad jobs to body positivity to relationships.

One of my favorite chapters was “What would Kanye do?” She even raps a little and it’s fun reading that bit aloud because it, well, rhymes. And there’s a lot of cussing going on and it’s funny imagining the writer going Kanye West and shit, y’know? I mean, look at that sweet face.

I must admit that I skipped some parts where the author talks about her life philosophy and jumped straight to her real life anecdotes. Who doesn’t?

Sometimes she lets the crazy lady shine through when she says stuff like:

IT’S 2016 AND THE WHOLE WORLD IS MADE OF CRACK.

I loved her for it. Here’s what she says about the absurd tightrope women have to walk:

You are a nice person, and you’re also full of anger. You’re a walking tangle of contradictions. That’s okay. Most of us are like that. Women, most of all. How could we not be? People want us to be sexy warriors who roll over and play dead on command. They want us to be flirty burlesque dancers in burkas, aggressive conquistadors with cookies in the oven, Dorothy Parker meets Dorothy Gale, Sandra Bernhard meets Sandra Dee, Kristen Stewart meets Martha Stewart.

Recommended for: People who want some direction and guidance peppered with a liberal amount of profanity.

Rating: 7.5/ 10

 

A Man Called Ove

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Ove. Who is this man? Why do I want to read about a man called Ove?

The author Fredrik Backman makes a good case for it. Read the book to find out. End of review! Boy that was fast and easy!

Of course not, sit on your couch and do not switch tabs. Wipe the crumbs off of your germ-infested keyboard and read on. Please?

Ove is a fifty-nine year old man. He dislikes technology, stupid people, children, his neighbours, cats, death. He encounters all of this, and then more. Is this another book with an obviously unlikable protagonist who you end up loving the most once you reach the end of the book? Yes. Will this book become a cringe inducing cheese fest? That was my concern too.

The first chapter is “A man called Ove buys a computer that is not a computer”. Ove goes to buy his very first iPad (which he calls O-Pad), convinced that it is not a very good computer because it has no physical keyboard. The back and forth is enjoyable, to say the least. You begin to enjoy Ove unwittingly torture everyone he comes in contact with.

Sample this quote about his contempt for tall people:

Ove feels an instinctive skepticism towards all people taller than six feet; the blood can’t quite make it all the way up to the brain.

Ouch!

About a tattooed man:

The slightly porky man on the other side of the Plexiglas has back-combed hair and arms covered in tattoos. As if it isn’t enough to look like someone has slapped a pack of margarine over his head, he has to cover himself in doodles as well. There’s not even a proper motif, as far as Ove can see, just a lot of patterns. Is that something an adult person in a healthy state of mind would consent to? Going about with his arms looking like a pair of pajamas?

Ove is more of a human than all the other saccharine sweet characters you encounter. Ove is honest and does not mince words. He has the utmost respect for men who build things with their hands and is infinitely suspicious of the IT folk.

There’s something to be said of the writer Fredrik Backman who can make a 25 year old woman like me empathize with Ove. I became Ove. His trials became mine, so did his tribulations and constant annoyances. Even after having finished reading the book, my friends were surprised to see me talk trash about IT professionals and eye electronic items suspiciously. The effect lasted a mere 15 hours, fortunately.

You may now switch tabs and buy for yourself a shiny new copy of Ove. Happy reading!

 

 

 

 

 

In Bad Taste

Do we always have to be tasteful? Do we really need to be well turned out, in impeccable clothes?

This quote by Diana Vreeland got me thinking:

“A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika. We all need a splash of bad taste—it’s hearty, it’s healthy, it’s physical. I think we could use more of it. No taste is what I’m against.”

Remember Björk’s swan dress?

A HUGE dose of paprika, perhaps. But look where the dress landed, at MoMA, one of the most influential museums of modern art in the world. Does that elevate it to the status of good taste? Perhaps not.


But one should remember this, every Björk swan has it’s day.

Also, paprika. And stuff.

The Internet Cat Phenomenon

Cats.

Internet cats.

Why is the internet still obsessed with cats. I thought the cat meme/ picture/ video/ vine thing would die its natural death and the internet would move on to the next new thing. But Grumpy Cat is proof enough that the Internet Cat Phenomenon is still a thing.

I was on the cover of @LuckyMagazine once. It was awful.

A post shared by Grumpy Cat (@realgrumpycat) on

Are cats the new celebrities with their narcissistic tendencies and love for the camera? Are we going back to the times when Egyptians used to worship cats?

Over to you, Wiki

Praised for controlling vermin and its ability to kill snakes such as cobras, the domesticated cat became a symbol of grace and poise. The goddess Mafdet, the deification of justice and execution, was a lion-headed goddess. The cat goddess Bast (also known as Bastet) eventually replaced Mafdet, and Bast’s image softened over time and she became the deity representing protection, fertility, and motherhood.

That makes sense. Cats were useful creatures, killing snakes and vermin and keeping your house pest-free. But we don’t have that problem now, we have pest control to take care of that!

Now that the Ancient Egypt Cat Goddess angle has been eliminated, what could be the reason behind our obsession with Internet Cats? Why are cats breaking the internet?

Breaking the internet. That reminds me of Kim Kardashian, another enigma. Nope, that’s not it. Cats don’t name their kid after a direction.

It has something to do with celebrities. I know it.

What do cats have that celebrities don’t? A sense of mystery, that’s what. We’re bombarded with celebrity news. We follow them on social media. We know what Neil Patrick Harris eats.

Cats. The new celebrities who want nothing to do with humans and will never share pictures of cat food (mainly due to lack of opposable thumbs)

Humans. Hungry for sources of social rejection. Suckers for ‘mystery’ and stuff.

How to fall in Love with Cats

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Cat taking a selfie

There, I’ve bowed down to the internet and posted cat pictures. Are you happy, Internet gods?

More fabulous cats (with a bit of fashion sprinkled here and there) here

For some reason, I’ve been trying to fall in love with cats. Everyone loves cats, and I’m passive towards them. There must be something wrong with me. To fix that wrong, I’m on a journey to find my Inner Cat Goddess and love her.

I Googled “How do I fall in love with cats?” And, well, I didn’t really get what I was looking for. So people don’t actually try to fall in love with cats and it simply happens?

Maybe I should try another Google search, “How do I fall in love with humans?” and that led me to this WikiHow page. Now all I have to do is replace “person” with “cats”!

There are three parts to “How to fall in love”:

  1. Finding the right person cat.
  2. Developing the relationship.
  3. Building a lasting connection.

I’ll cover one part in each post.

So here goes:

Part 1: Finding the right person cat

      1.  Bolster your self esteem

To fall in love and find the right person you must first have confidence and love invested in yourself.” 

Love yourself: check. This is going to be so easy.

     

      2.  Consider why you want to fall in love

There’s no right answer for why you want to fall in love, but there are some reasons that aren’t good and that indicate a deeper problem. A few reasons to fall in love that aren’t good: you are feeling lonely or think you need your self-esteem bolstered by someone else (this will make you take any relationship you get, which will lead to problems later), all your friends are in relationships, you believe you need to have a relationship to be happy. These are all symptoms of deeper problems that won’t be cured by entering into a relationship.”

I want to fall in love with cats on a whim. That’s not wrong. Is it? I’m almost sure it isn’t wrong.


      3.  Consider what you are looking for 

No, don’t make a list of exact specifications detailing the hair color, job, schooling level, and personality of your potential significant other. You’re not going to ever find an exact match, but you should acknowledge the basics of what you’re looking for.”

Now the sudden realization hits me that this falling in love with cats thing isn’t as simple as replacing “person” with “cat”. But I’ve invested so much time into this so I’m going to see this through.

I’m looking for a cat that won’t bite or claw me. Also, I’d appreciate it if she didn’t aim hairballs at me. That’s all.

4.  Meet people cats

Of course, to be able to find someone with whom to fall in love, you’re going to need to go out and meet people. This doesn’t mean you have to be a big party animal, or that you have to do things that you’re not entirely comfortable with, but it’s a good idea to at least try and get out of your comfort zone a little bit.”

People who have cats! I can always hang out with them (cats and humans) at their homes

5.  Open yourself to new possibilities

Doing things that you might not otherwise have done can help foster a sense of excitement for you, as well as take you outside your comfort zone to meet different kinds of people.”

I can do some cat-sitting, it’s way out of my comfort zone.

6.  Give things time

Even if you’ve been going to parties and your friends have been introducing you to plenty of fun, attractive people, you should still expect the process to take some time. Be patient. It can take years to find the right person. Along the way, you may find people that you think are right for you, but turn out not to be. Use these opportunities as learning experiences. Eventually, you’ll get a sense for the kind of person you’re looking for.”

Now I’m really beginning to see how my replace-person-with-cats-in-a-WikiHow-article- for-falling-in-love approach was so wrong. I hereby declare that Parts 2 and 3 are cancelled. I’m sorry, dear readers.

To make up for my fickle mindedness, here are some adorable cats!

nomakeupcat
I hate paparazzi!
whatdidyousay
What did you just say, deplorable human?
hipstercat
Hipster cat