Edwidge Danticat and 3 Marks

Edwidge Danticat's Breath, Eyes, Memory is just about as fine a book as I could ask for - and all the more special for having been traded for on a whim in a boxer trade at paperbackswap. I hadn't heard of it before, but the woman with whom I was trading gave me an intriguing description, so I chose it.

What a good choice that was. Breath, Eyes, Memory is the first-person narrative of Sophie Caco who, at the age of 12, leaves Haiti to join her mother in New York. Over the course of ten years or so, she learns the story of her mother's life. Sophie's relationships with the women in her family - her mother, her aunt, her grandmother and later her daughter - deepen in meaning against the backdrop of her mother's tragic past, which in turn is set into the chaos of Haiti itself.

The writing is beautiful. Two additional aspects of the book fascinated me: one was the interweaving of indigenous religious elements (similar to vodoun) with Christian ones. The other was parsing the Haitian Kreyole dialect given in the dialogue. I'll be passing this on to my friend S, who is interested in Creole.

This is one of those books I want to keep in circulation. It is so good, for so many reasons, that it ought to be read by as many people as possible.

Next I read a book by Mark Millar - if you're reading comix these days, you know the name, as he's doing the popular anti-Bush "Civil War" series. (I'm not reading that series - already too mad at Bush to get my b.p. up higher by reading about him on a regular basis.) This graphic novel, Wanted, I also got from PBS. It was fun, though a bit on the violent side.

Wanted tells the story of Wes Gibson, a meek nobody who suddenly discovers that his father (a pilot who had abandoned the family when Wes was an infant) was actually a supervillain to end all supervillains.

Only he's been assassinated. And The Organization wants Wes to take his father's place.

It's funny. The supervillains (all newly created for the book) are, for the most part, amusing. The plot is so-so. It was a quick read. It wasn't Neil Gaiman, by any means - nothing particularly deep or clever. But I enjoyed it, and I'll be passing it along to C, who will enjoy it as well.

Breathtaker, by Mark Wheatley and Marc Hempel, is the last of the books I'll be reporting on this morning. Another graphic novel (yawn! you're saying, but get used to it), this one was quite different, and I found it well worth my time. I got this one from PBS, too - what snagged my interest were the words "Introduction by Neil Gaiman" on the cover. If Gaiman found it worth writing the intro. to this, then it was probably worth my time to read and my credit to "buy," went my thinking, and I was right.

I loved the character pictured above, "The Man," a superhero with super strength but not much upstairs, managed to death by the govt. and heavily dependent on his little sunglasses. Endearing in a very annoying sort of way! The other main character is Chase, a woman with whom men are doomed to fall in love, who needs their love to keep from aging prematurely - not really a succubus, exactly, but similar in concept. Both are products of an evil government experimental program which, unfortunately, the book does not adequately explain.

It's a lovely book, with wonderful, spare paintings and good writing, until the authors apparently decide at the last minute that it's too dark and twist things around to make everything nice & sweet at the end. Still, it's sort of fairytale-ish, and I like it enough to keep it rather than reposting it.

The cover makes it look like an erotic horror comic, which is too bad because it isn't that at all; it's not even a love story. It could have been a mystery, if the authors had put in just a little more effort. Instead, it's just a short story about two pawns trying to break out of the game. Which is maybe what we're all trying to do, ultimately?


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