Multiple Eisner award winner Shannon Wheeler is not afraid to skewer everyone’s sacred goats from Trump to confederate flags in Memoirs of a Very Stable Genius.
Do Latin pigs speak Pig Latin? Would statues of bestiality be less controversial than confederate generals? How do angels describe their halos to get them back from Heaven’s Lost and Found Department?
Definitely not for children, Memoirs of a Very Stable Genius is consistently and irreverently funny. Some are one-page political cartoons. Others are multi-page short stories—some fiction and some seemingly true personal experiences of the author. About a third of the book is in color.
The book is dedicated to men with small packages and the author’s father. If that seems weird, this may not be the comic for you. It is funny and a good short read. 3 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Image Comics, and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Jul 17 2018, memoir, Politics
Families are messed up. Even, maybe especially, famous ones.
The author of All the Answers is Michael Kupperman. He is a famous, Eisner Award-winning artist and writer. However, he continues to be haunted by his father’s aloof attitude toward him throughout his childhood and adolescence. The author believes that his father’s famous background as the longest running quiz kid may have mentally harmed his father from a young age.
Quiz Kids was a radio show during WWII and continued as a television show in the fifties. Joel Kupperman was the youngest quiz kid. He was a math wizard with a professed IQ of 200+. His mother was the stereotypical stage mother. She took him to nightclubs and together they hobnobbed with all the famous stars of the day (Milton Berle, Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, Jack Benny, etc.).
All the Answers depicts the author’s perception of what happened to his father when suddenly thrust into fame. Unfortunately, his father never wanted to talk about his childhood and now cannot due to dementia. His grandmother’s scrapbooks provide some answers. But much of the book seems based more on speculation rather than fact. However, that is missing the point. The setting is Joel’s childhood but the mystery is how Michael will deal with his own unusual childhood. Will he become aloof with his own son or will he break the family dynamic?
All the Answers has a great plot that veers into many areas. It’s about families, fame’s costs, dementia, and child actor mental abuse. It is an extremely compelling read. I downloaded it and read it in one sitting. The art is fabulous.
I liked it more than Fun Home and could see other fans of that graphic novel also enjoying this one. Highly recommended. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Gallery 13, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Graphic Novel, Non-fiction Tagged with: biography, May 15 2018, memoir
The Great American Outpost is a scattershot memoir of the North Dakota fracking oil boom and its impact on local residents.
In 2011, the first horizontal fracking oil well was drilled in North Dakota. What followed totally changed the laid back farming vibe of the state. Out-of-state workers flooded the area in search of unskilled and truck driving jobs paying upwards of $150,000 a year. Many were criminals, drunks and/or avoiding their child support orders. The jails were so full they had to take criminals to Montana to house them. With so many large trucks on the road, locals were dying regularly in traffic accidents. Enterprising locals upped their food prices over 100%. Housing was scarce. One English con man scammed international investors with a resident hotel Ponzi scheme.
While somewhat interesting, the Great American Outpost didn’t hold my interest throughout. It needed some editing to mine a coherent plot from its episodic stories of North Dakota’s oil rush. 3 stars.
Thanks to the publisher, Public Affairs/Perseus Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: Apr 24 2018, memoir
Interesting, but pretentious, essays and memoirs about punk rock’s beginnings in England.
The essays here vary tremendously in readability and point of view. Quite a few emphasize the punk “scene” and how awesome it was for the writer to be a part of it. Others interpret punk as a reaction to glam (think New York Dolls and David Bowie in the late 70s). Some suggest the private school uniforms frequently worn by punk rockers at the time represent a rejection of the old fogies (30-year-olds) of 60s rock like the Rolling Stones.
Some of the ideas are good but a reader must wade through a lot of pretension to get to them. As a former punk rocker in 80s Los Angeles, I do recall that enthusiasm for making the music was more important than real talent for playing an instrument or singing. However, punk rockers were not pretentious at all. In fact, they were rebelling against the arrogant rich and those striving to be rich (like on the hit television shows of the time Dallas and Dynasty). The biggest negative for this collection is the absence of the music. Even the Sex Pistols, arguably the first punk rock band, were mentioned more for their appearance and lifestyle than their music.
I would recommend Punk is Dead more as a research source for a college class than for former punk rockers like myself. Sometimes it is best to leave the past in the past. 3 stars.
Thanks to the publisher, Zero Books, and NetGalley for an advanced review copy. Punk is Dead: Modernity Killed Every Night will be released October 27, 2017.
Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: memoir, oct 27, punk rock
Heartfelt graphic memoir shares interesting insights about the trauma of having a sick child.
Spot 12 shares the author’s story of a child, Asa, who is born with trachea issues. It especially addresses the parents’ conflicting feelings when surgery may cause immediate pain to their child while only possibly providing long-term benefits. In the neonatal intensive care unit, no decisions are easily made. The struggle to protect a child that is fighting for its life so soon after birth is difficult for the strongest person. The author shares some of her own mental health issues resulting from the stress of the NICU. Included within this graphic memoir are illustrations that clearly show the feelings of the author. There is a comprehensive epilogue that continues the family’s story after its time in the neonatal unit.
Spot 12 makes the reader feel a part of the action rather than just an observer. It is a real page-turner as the reader rushes to discover the result of Asa’s stay in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Spot 12 is a great gift for any parent of a child going through health difficulties. It is also good for those readers who want to share someone else’s difficult life experiences. 3 stars.
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway but that has not impacted my review.
Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: memoir, premature birth
A heartfelt memoir of a powerful woman who was born a male.
Born into a physically and mentally abusive Catholic family in the late 1950s, Dennis always liked dresses and dolls. Despite his frequently drunk father’s beatings, Dennis grew up pursuing common Wisconsin hobbies like fishing and ice skating. But Dennis has a secret, he has always felt female. His clandestine wearing of female clothing and makeup during high school is eventually discovered forcing him to move to California after graduation. Dennis continues his downward spiral into sex, drugs and crime before finally realizing his dream of womanhood at age 50.
Self-Made Woman is an empowering tale of one person’s transformation. Not just from male to female but also from adolescent to adult.
Memoirs allow readers to view life through someone else’s eyes. There are few eyes as interesting as Ms. DuBois’. Self-Made Woman is recommended for those who have gender dysphoria and their loved ones. However, it is also an interesting read for anyone who wants to get out of their own skin for awhile.
Just a note, this book contains graphic sex and should only be read by 17+.
I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway but that has not impacted my review.
Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: Lgbtqia, memoir, transgender