Sunday, August 05, 2007

M or F?
by Lisa Papademetriou and Christopher Tebbetts

Cyrano de Bergerac meets instant messaging — hilarity ensues. That's what was supposed to happen, I guess. Also, this whole gay-boy-and-his-fag-hag-are-into-the-same-guy-and-they-don't-know-if-he's-gay-or-straight thing is getting a little tired. I wanted to like this book, I really did. And it does have a surprise twist at the end. If you haven't read as many gay-themed young adult novels as I have, you might enjoy it, cuz it's not actually that bad.

Let Us Be Perfectly Clear

by Paul Hornschemeier

This is a weirdly constructed book — really two books (Let Us Be and Perfectly Clear) back-to-back and bound together so that it has no back cover but two front covers from which one reads toward the middle of the book. It's a collection of short comic (as in strip, not as in funny) pieces which occasionally overlap but don't have an overarching theme. Some are great, some are stupid, some are very short and deeply unsatisfying, one of them will make you feel a bit nauseated. To some extent these are "art comics" that will be most appreciated by other graphic artists and illustrators. For the rest of us, it might be worth flipping through but it's not really something you'd want to read straight through.

The Invisible

by Mats Wahl

Now a Major Motion Picture! Gosh, I hate when they put that on the cover. In fact, just as this is the English translation of a book written in Sweden, the American movie is remake of a Swedish movie, and of course the American version ups the ante by adding a second invisible character because, as we all know, most Americans are incapable of detecting subtlety or paying attention to a tragedy that isn't also a romance.

As to the book, subtlety is not in the plot but in the excruciatingly slow unfolding of events. I'm not giving anything away by telling you there's an invisible character — the title does that well enough, and his invisibility becomes apparent early in the story. Really, much of the plot is rather predictable, but, thanks to excellent writing, that doesn't diminish the tense, strangled urgency or the crushing sense of tragedy that permeate the book. It's a pretty quick read, a good recommendation for "reluctant reader" teens and those with a book report due tomorrow.

Also, spend a few moments pondering the book jacket. I didn't see it until I held the book open and looked at the whole image that wraps around from front to back cover.

I Love Led Zeppelin: panty-dropping comics
Monkey Food: the complete I was seven in '75 collection

by Ellen Forney

Hilarious and highly recommended if you like comics. (These are definitely comics, not graphic novels.) Forney's drawing style is well-suited to both the comedic and the erotic themes.

I Love LZ is mostly one-page, one-off comics in the how-to vein: how to be a fag hag, as explained by Margaret Cho; how not to get caught using drugs; how to reattach severed fingers; how to twirl the tassels on your pasties — all a little dirty, subversive, sexy, etc. It also includes a few longer comics, including one written by a gay male friend and illustrated by Forney. Not that everything else is oppressively gynocentric, I just found that one extra interesting, for reasons you should be able to imagine.

Monkey Food is the episodic narrative of the author-illustrator's wonder years. I was only two in '75, but I'm still old enough to appreciate the way bell-bottoms and loud colors can turn the screw on ordinary human foibles.