October 8, 2013
could this selection BE any more random? behold, my reading material over the last two months. let's go!
How Animals Grieve
I am super interested in animal psychology, so once I read about this one on the NPR website, I knew I had to add it to my library queue. my love of elephants sparked this interest; they are one of the most emotionally/mentally evolved creatures on the planet. they have memories that last decades, they are very social and gregarious, they are capable of creating art (really) and yes, something happens to them when their fellow elephants die. as the author concludes, it's impossible to definitively prove that animals grieve. but she loads the book with anecdote after anecdote of animals and their dramatic behavior changes when a companion dies. elephants, dogs, cats, ducks, primates, dolphins... she has a story for each about an instance where a family member dies and the behavior that is displayed can only be described as grief. mothers refusing to abandon their stillborn babies, elephants circling & protecting the carcasses of their friends, cats lapsing into "depression" when a longtime companion fails to return from the vet. on and on. it reminds me a lot of Daphne Sheldrick's story of saving & rearing orphaned elephants, many of whom display classic PTSD symptoms from witnessing their family's slaughter.
continuing my Introduction to Graphic Novels 101, I checked out Habibi, by the same guy who wrote Blankets. this book is bananas. the illustrations seriously left me speechless. so intricate, with beautiful interplay between Arabic calligraphy and traditional Middle Eastern patterns. I have a bad habit of breezing by illustrations within a book, but each page gave me pause, if nothing else just to attempt to calculate the time each one took. the story has so much going on, but at the center are 2 child slaves, and older girl and younger boy, who become their own little family amidst the tragedy and injustice each one encounters throughout their life. it's a wild ride, and pretty disturbing at times (lots of mature content like rape/abuse), but in the end it's a really beautiful and expertly crafted story. Here are a couple pages early in the book.
Queen of the Air
and now for something completely different! the true story of Leitzel, the most famous trapeze artist in the world. she was born in 1892 into the circus life and traveled Europe in many small struggling circuses until she made her big break with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. she was a favorite among the crowds and male suitors, and lived a short but colorful life. it's an interesting biography that weaves her story into the larger picture of cricus history and early American history.
another awesome graphic novel that takes place in the Middle East. this one's about the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, told from the perspective of the author who was a little girl at the time. her parents were liberals and the revolution and ensuing war with Iraq affected many of their family members and friends. the illustrations are much more simple than Habibi but still evocative. I haven't read Part 2 yet, but it's on my list. here's an excerpt below.
Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies
after Chris Kluwe grabbed the attention of The Internet last year, it was inevitable that someone would offer him a book deal. he's intelligent, forthright, scathing, witty, and he has a LOT of ideas to share. and he doesn't really care what you think. I loved his Deadspin letter and subsequent blog posts for the Pioneer Press, I enjoy following him on Twitter (until the talk turns to gaming), so I figured I would see what he has to say in a long format. turns out, it's a collection of 2-5 page essays on... pretty much whatever he wants. lots of science-fiction-heavy rants about the future, a little football talk, a self-written eulogy, it's pretty much all over the place. I like that the publishers gave him free reign, even if a lot of it isn't my jam. it was a fun jaunt!