Friday, December 22, 2006

The Best Book I've Read This Year: FUN HOME, by Alison Bechdel.


When I started this blog, I thought of being anonymous, and substituting generic words like widgets for specific words like comics. Then I could say anything I like and not worry about the consequences.

Well, I haven't felt restrained at all, except by trying to be reasonable. (Two of my customers have commented that I'm more 'mild' on the blog than I am in real life, but I think that is just a function of being able to examine what I'm saying before I push the "PUBLISH" button.)

As it turns out, I'm not inclined to talk much about comics or toys or games, except as they relate to business. It turns out I'm most interested in the topic of business itself.

But today, I'm going to talk about the best book I've read this year; FUN HOME, by Alison Bechdel. Now I love graphic novels, but this is the first year I could say that a graphic novel was the BEST thing I've read. It was powerfully affecting, wonderfully done. It surprised me, and I'm open to the idea that a mere graphic novel has the potential to have the best content of any book.

I'm always saying, "Form doesn't dictate content. Imagine, if you will, that Picasso and Hemingway got together and created a graphic novel. Why not?"

Yesterday, TIME.COM named FUN HOME its Best Book of the Year. Apparently, it surprised the author who says: "I'm still a bit flummoxed by it. I mean, FUN HOME, is an odd little book....Go figure."

I bought my business because I was interested in fantasy, and because the store was available, but not because I was a comic reader. It took me several years to begin to appreciate comics at all, and a few more years before I became a real convert. But it isn't 'in the blood', the way SF and Fantasy is 'in the blood.' I had to learn from scratch, and so I tend to appreciate the art form more than simply swim in it.

To this day, when I read everynight, it's usually a mystery or a good SF book. Not because I like them better, but because, ironically, a novel is easier for me to read than a graphic novel. I actually need to pay more attention to a good graphic novel than a book, because it is doubly complex with both words and pictures; maybe even triply complex because of the interplay between the two.

Authors like Alan Moore and Neal Gaiman and Frank Miller are as good as anyone who writes, period, and when you combine that wonderful writing with great artists (and make no mistake, these aren't clunky comic artists of old, but sophisticated illustraters), you really have a vibrant and interesting art form, that isn't appreciated by the general public. Think of it this way; if every one had turned off their TV 35 years ago, they would be astounded by what's been created.

Anyway, I throw this out to anyone who is still reading. The best book I've read all year is FUN HOME, by Alison Bechdel.

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