Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kyle Durrie's Type Truck in Florida

If you were at FAU on this last February 2nd, then you probably say Kyle Durrie's Type Truck in front of the library. Thanks to our help & from many others, Kyle was able to make the trip across America with her moveable letterpress studio. It was a quick visit, but many happy students were able to take home one-of-a-kind postcards as well as print their own poster, which stated, "This is Not a Taco Truck" (humorously, I did hear someone say "mmm, tacos" as they past by, only to see the whole poster when they got closer.) I've posted below Kyle's blog entry on here trip to the JCBA. Let's hope she is able to come again.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Center Paige: Match in a Bottle

Match in a Bottle is a book of seven poems by Tracey Knapp & is illustrated by Kurt Gohde. The book is housed in a clamshell box & the box & the book are covered in Japanese red cloth. They both have a 22-karat gold foil stamp with the book's title on it. The seven poems are all about fire & smoke, and the seven illustrations that correspond with the poems are all made with smoke.

The smoke illustrations are all original "drawings" that are made with matches, kerosene lamps, "snaps", gunpowder & cigarette lighters. These illustrations are quite unique & intricate. It's hard to figure out how they were able to make these illustrations. One illustration looks like a black cauldron that is has smoke rising out of it, or there is an illustration of ghosts that is very eerie. There were 65 copies of this book made, meaning that there were a total of 455 illustrations that needed to be made, but I'm sure there were many experiments and failed attempts. Gohde refers to Jules Renard's quote about smoke as "the inconstant wife of the wind," probably out of his attempts to make smoke a constant.

The poetry is rich and fully descriptive. The first poem is short but is a good starting point as to the tone of the rest of the book:


I am talking about fire
and that means burning.
About a lit match in a bottle.
About stirring up embers 
while walking through ruins.

Match in a Bottle is a beautiful book that shows off artistic skill, creativity & persistence & one of the most exhibited books here at the JCBA.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Graphic Novel of the Month: Asterios Polyp

I reviewed this graphic novel at the beginning of the creation of the blog, but somehow, that review has been lost, but that is fine, because Asterios Polyp is a graphic novel that deserves a second look. Written & drawn by David Mazzucchelli (who was the artist for City of Glass), this magnum opus follows a paper architect (meaning, he designs buildings, but they only stay designs) whose apartment burns downs from a lightning storm on his fiftieth birthday. Leaving everything behind, Asterios drives off until his car breaks down & becomes a car mechanic's assistant. Flashbacks then show Asterios' failed relationship with his insecure wife caused by his patronizing, self-important personality & her need to find a voice of her own.

The story is very layered & between the scenes from the present to the flashbacks, there are also many unique segments, like conversations between Asterios & his unborn twin brother. A favorite segment of mine features a theater like production of the Orpheus myth starring the characters of the novel. The narrative is rich with Ancient Greek inspirations. At one point, Asterios says that he feels like many, petty deities, like those on Mount Olympus, makes more sense than one all-knowing, all-caring god. He even says that his family's name was cut in half, which could make it Polyhemus, the cyclops of from Homer's Odyssey, which could also explain why Asterios is only shown profile.

The cryptic, layered narrative is just one dimension of the story. Mazzucchelli adds more meaning to the story with his drawings & he stretches his artistic muscle. At points, characters are drawn individually & stylistically different to convey their personality. The chapters are divided by a picture, which is a motif in that chapter. All of the drawings are colored in mostly cyan, magenta, & yellow, giving the novel a unique pop that I've never seen before in graphic novels. But, all of these artistic liberties that Mazzucchelli take doesn't bury the emotions of the story. They are not forgotten & Mazzacchelli's finely tuned hand actually makes the sentiments more pronounce.

I venture to say that Asterios Polyp is one of the definitive graphic novels of the last decade because he uses the form of the graphic novel to create new ideas in storytelling. Nothing is left untouched, including the half-covered boards & the not-big-enough dust jacket. Asterios Polyp has the potential to be a real game changer.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Monster that is Amazon

I just received the Kindle Fire for my birthday, making me part of the digital book revolution (although, I have failed to read a book on it yet.) In December, Amazon released that they sold one million Fires a week, adding more power to the online retailer. Amazon used to be a seller of books, now it has become a seller of just about everything. You really never need to leave the house, unless you want to get some fresh produce. You can buy anything & Amazon is making it easier to get anything with special accounts that make quicker & cheaper shipments. It has changed the way the world works; some may say it has made shopping more convenient or some may criticize that it has made us more alienated. Still, I found this infograph that tries to show just how big the mega-store is.