Blog Archives

Nall, Alex – Lawns



Just a quick note before I start talking about what might be Alex’s best book (and I’ve liked several of his other books quite a bit): it looks like his website hasn’t been updated since he linked to the review I did of his last book over a year ago. But you can still buy this book through the link on the title (going to the Kilgore Books website), so don’t panic. Well, I already gave the game away on my opinion on this one, but what can I say? It’s a goddamn amazing book. On the surface, this is the story of a mayoral election in a small town that gets a little tense, but there are so many little factors at play that that description feels like cheating. There’s Roger and his dog; Roger is a simple guy who doesn’t mow his lawn and doesn’t keep his dog on a leash. Anybody who’s ever lived in a small town already knows what kind of trouble petty things like that can bring. Roger’s dog has also bit a few neighborhood kids, although we eventually see that there’s more to the story. There’s Carl, Roger’s neighbor, who is fed up with the whole thing and eventually uses it as a platform to run for mayor (that and “Fuck Chuck,” referring to the current town mayor). Carl also got dumped by his wife recently and is living with a much younger woman. There’s Mildred, a reclusive older woman who writes regular letters to a dead beau; she’s also possibly Roger’s only friend. There’s Josh, a boy who’s gotten bitten by Roger’s dog, and the mischief he’s getting into. Finally there’s Chuck, the current mayor and somebody who’s just fine with the status quo. All of those people are explored thoroughly throughout the book, several of them make some pretty big life changes, and the whole thing comes together beautifully by the end, even the little bits that I was ready to write off as going nowhere. Josh trying to get even with Roger and his dog, Carl’s escalating rage that’s all made clear by something he says in this sleep, Roger just trying to live his life, they’re all given time and space to develop. This feels like one of those books that ends up winning awards, but even if that’s somehow not the case, this is an amazing book and I’m so happy that Alex is a teacher. It helps to know that he’s passing these skills on to the next generation. $10

Gennis, Emi – The Plunge



The Plunge

So how much do you know about the first person to go over Niagara Falls and live? If you’re anything like me, it’s probably something along the lines of “some woman did it first, right?” If you already know everything about it, congratulations! Even so, I’d be willing to bet that Emi has uncovered a few things in here that you didn’t already know. The first woman to go over the Falls and live was Annie Edson Taylor. She lied to reporters and said that she was 43 when she was really 63. And, as was the case with damned near everything in those days, the man who did it after her ended up much more famous and financially set for life. It’s odd not to want to give spoilers for a historical comic, but that habit of mine is too hard to break at this point. Bits of information in this comic include the story of Annie’s early life, the various unexplainable holes in her biography, her reasoning behind wanting to go over the falls, how she got the barrel constructed and her life after the event. I had no idea that the first person to go over Niagara Falls was in her 60’s, which makes an already impressive feat downright ridiculous. This comic is a fascinating bit of history that I knew nothing about, something that Emi has come to specialize in for the last 5 years or so, and, as always, I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. $6