January 23rd, 2006

books

Books 2006: Roadside Religion

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This book was very different from what I expected. I thought it would be a light-hearted travelogue of wacky religious-themed tourist attractions throughout the United States, but while is humorous in spots, the author takes the subject very seriously. That's not a bad thing — I found his observations, his interviews with the creators of the attractions, and his efforts to provide a sociological and historical context for each interesting and, in some cases, profound — but it was a surprise to find someone taking things that sound fundamentally absurd (like, for example, a Christian-themed miniature golf course) with any degree of respect. It's a failing common to my generation, I suppose: the tendency to view things ironically, and an expectation that others will do the same. I can't say, that this book made me want to visit any of the attractions described within, but the author did convince me to look at them differently, and more respectfully, than I would have otherwise.

See all the books I've read this year

books

Books 2006: 1602: New World

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From 1989 through 1996, DC Comic published The Sandman, a popular and highly regarded series written by Neil Gaiman. Once the series ended, DC continued to publish comics based on the mythos Gaiman created for Sandman. None of these subsidiary titles lived up to the original, but most of them were fairly well received, and the most recent, Mike Carey's Lucifer, comes darn close. From what I can see, most comics fans seem satisfied with how DC has handled the Sandman legacy.

It's no surprise, then, that when Marvel Comics published a popular and well regarded Gaiman series of their own — the 2003 limited series Marvel 1602 — they too had a desire to create new comics based on the original. Thus was 1602: New World born. Unfortunately, they seem to have failed to realize that it should be, you know, good, because it isn't. It's far from the worst thing Marvel published last year — from what I've seen, that would be Spider-Man: India, which was so bad I couldn't bring myself to read past the first chapter — but it's silly and pointless. The original had a neat twist that made it more than just another "what if" story, but the sequel doesn't. It's also horribly padded. It might have made a decent single issue of Marvel's old What If? series, but as a five-issue limited series, it falters badly.

See all the books I've read this year

10-J, 10-M

Ten random things: January 23

Ten artists whose work is currently on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art as part of the African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection exhibition:

  1. John Goba
  2. J. D. 'Okhai Ojeikere
  3. Fréderic Bruly Bouabré
  4. Samuel Kane Kwei
  5. Barthélémy Toguo
  6. Gedewon Makonnen
  7. Monsengwo Kejwamfi, called Moke
  8. Camille-Pierre Pambu Bodo
  9. Koffi Kouakou
  10. Pascale Marthine Tayou