Saturday, 30 November 2019
List #10: GRAPHIC NOVELS
Have a look through this selection of books we are recommending for summer reading and as seasonal gifts. Click through to read our reviews. Use the 'click and collect' function on our website to reserve your copies.
If you don't find what you're looking for here, come and talk to us: we have many other interesting books on our shelves.
Darwin: An exceptional voyage by Fabien Grolleau and Jérémie Royer $35
An exceptionally good graphic novel account of the voyage of the Beagle. From the creators of the equally wonderful Audubon: On the wings of the world.
Eileen Gray: A house under the sun by Zosia Dzierżawska and Charlotte Malterre-Barthes $33
An exquisite graphic novel about the architect and designer's life and work in the 1920s on her exemplary Modernist Villa E-1027.
>>Visit Villa E-1027
The Tenderness of Stones by Marion Fayolle $55
Marion Fayolle’s beautifully strange graphic novel is an exploration of a family’s attempts at grappling with the grief and loss of a loved one bears a surreal, fairy-tale quality. The graphic novel depicts the father figure of this particular family succumbing to an undisclosed illness with a focused yet fragile sense of retrospective narration. Parts of the father's body are gradually and carefully stripped away from him — starting with one of his lungs, he proceeds to lose his mouth, his nose, and ultimately rescinds into a childlike state. With the narrator’s father now trapped in a permanently pre-pubescent form, Fayolle’s narrative and visual style come into full play as her introspective storytelling and whimsical yet enlightened art carry the graphic novel’s emotions to the end.
"Handsome, delicate, masterful." —Starburst
Passing for Human by Liana Finck $48
A subtle and perceptive graphic memoir of a young artist struggling against what is expected of her - as an artist, as a woman, and as a human generally.
"Passing for Human is one of the most extraordinary memoirs I've ever read. It's a story about becoming a person, about creativity, about love, all told with originality and grace. An amazing, amazing book." - Roz Chast
Hobo Mom by Charles Forsman and Max de Radigues $27
A thoughtful, understated graphic novel. After a dangerous encounter riding the rails, Natasha chooses to show up on the doorstep of the family she abandoned years ago and finds an upset husband and a little girl yearning for a mother. Can someone who covets independence settle down?
"This is a remarkable graphic novel. Forsman and Radiguès seem to understand instinctively that while one person’s search for happiness may be the cause of another’s deep pain, accepting daily sadness as a kind of life tax won’t, in the end, make things better for anyone." —Guardian
Deep Breaths by Chris Gooch $38
A space bounty hunter tracks down a frog princess, a woman finds a condom where it shouldn't be, and a spoiled art student works his first freelance job. A collection of short dark-to-very-dark, strange-to-very-strange, excellent-to-superb comic strips from this outstanding graphic novelist.
Let Me Be Frank by Sarah Laing $35
Reading. Writing. Parenting. Angsting. A wonderful — quirkily funny and poignant — graphic memoir from the superb Sarah Laing, drawn between 2010 and 2019.
"Let Me Be Frank is a brilliant collection of anecdotes and observations. Sarah's stories of navigating daily life in all its absurdity and mundanity are told with alarming honesty and humour." —Art Sang
"Full of incidental and profound pleasure. Audaciously, addictively honest." —Anna Smaill
>>Mansfield and Me.
Ness by Robert Macfarlane and Stanley Donwood $35
Somewhere on a salt-and-shingle island, inside a ruined concrete structure known as The Green Chapel, a figure called The Armourer is leading a black mass with terrible intent. But something is coming to stop him. Five more-than-human forms are traversing land, sea and time towards The Green Chapel, moving towards the point where they will converge and become Ness. Ness has lichen skin and willow-bones. Ness is made of tidal drift, green moss and deep time. Ness has hagstones for eyes and speaks only in birds. And Ness has come to take this island back.
"Ness goes beyond what we expect books to do. Beyond poetry, beyond the word, beyond the bomb — it is an aftertime song. It is dark, ever so dark, nimble and lethal. It is a triumphant libretto of mythic modernism for our poisoned age. Ness is something else, and feels like it always has been." —Max Porter
Rufus Marigold by Ross Murray $35
Rufus Marigold is a primate with a problem. He suffers acutely from anxiety and every social encounter is a harrowing ordeal. A budding artist, Rufus spends his days working in an office. As life become increasingly more of a struggle, Rufus yearns to be defined as something other than a complete nervous wreck. An intensely funny and tragic New Zealand graphic novel. Highly recommended.
"Ruefully, familiar, hilarious. Rufus Marigold delights and horrifies in equal measures in equal measure. A must-read for anyone who's ever felt award in social situations, and anyone who's had a dream." - Sarah Laing
>>Read Thomas's review.
Uncertain Manifesto by Frédéric Pajak $35
The writer and artist Frederic Pajak was ten when he began to "dream of a work that would mingle words and images: bits of adventure, collected memories, sentences, phantoms, forgotten heroes, trees, the stormy sea," but it was not until he was in his forties that this dream took form. This unusual book is a memoir born of reading and a meditation on the lives and ideas, the motivations, feelings, and fates of some of Pajak's heroes: Samuel Beckett and the artist Bram van Velde, and, especially, Walter Benjamin, whose travels to Moscow, Naples, and Ibiza, whose experiences with hashish, whose faltering marriage and love affairs and critique of modern experience Pajak re-creates and reflects on in word and image. Pajak's moody black-and-white drawings accompany the text throughout, though their bearing on it is often indirect and all the more absorbing for that. Between word and image, the reader is drawn into a mysterious space that is all Pajak's as he seeks to evoke vanished histories and to resist a modern world more and more given over to a present without a past.
Death Wins a Goldfish: Reflections from a grim reaper's year-long sabbatical by Brian Rea $30
Death never has a day off, so he has accumulated a lot of leave entitlement. HR insists he use it up, so off Death goes to take a break in the Land of the Living. How do the living relax and enjoy themselves? Graphic novel.
The Book of Imprudent Flora by Claudio Romo $55
With stunning illustrations throughout, the book is written as a travel diary by Lazaro de Sahagun, eminent naturalist and explorer and concerns his voyage to a mysterious isle and subsequent cataloguing of the astonishing life forms, each with a unique history and mode of existence. Perhaps, as Lazaro muses, if the earth is a living organism as he believes, places like this island are necessary for the planet to safeguard these marvellous species from 'future periods of global decadence.'
Moonlight Travellers by Will Self and Quentin Blake $40
A remarkable collaboration between an outstanding illustrator and an outstanding writer. When Self saw Blake's slightly macabre illustrations of people making their ways across moonlit landscapes in eccentric vehicles, he went home and wrote a set of similarly baroquely strange and moon-saturated texts. This astounding book contains both.
Palimpsest: Documents from a Korean adoption by Lisa Wool-Rim Sjöblom $48
Thousands of South Korean children were adopted around the world in the 1970s and 1980s. More than nine thousand found their new home in Sweden, including Lisa Wool-Rim Sjöblom, who was adopted when she was two years old. Throughout her childhood she struggled to fit into the homogenous Swedish culture and was continually told to suppress the innate desire to know her origins. Sjöblom's unaddressed feelings about her adoption come to a head when she is pregnant with her first child. When she discovers a document containing the names of her biological parents, she realises her own history may not match up with the story she's been told her whole life: that she was an orphan without a background. An outstanding graphic memoir. Sjöblom now lives in New Zealand.
Rusty Brown by Chris Ware $60
Ware’s first graphic novel since 2012’s Building Stories is anchored by the inconsequential events of a single day in a school in Ware’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, in 1975. It tells the interwoven stories of the titular pre-teen bully magnet and a handful of characters with whom his life, however glancingly, intersects.
"Mordantly melancholy and drawn and plotted with extraordinary precision." —Guardian
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