What did I read (and finish) this week? Look below to find out.
Journeys: Mennonite Stories of Faith and Survival in Stalin’s Russia edited and translated by John B. Toews (1998). This book is a collection of partial memoirs by four Mennonite Soviet Germans that lived in the USSR before and after World War II. They recount they numerous troubles they and their family endured during and after the Bolshevik Revolution, collectivization, World War II, and the special settlement phase. These two women and two men tell us how their faith aided them, who helped them, and what were the most trying things they had to endure. I especially enjoyed the memories of the women, who, while more sentimental, nevertheless painted a more realistic and detailed picture. It was surprisingly engaging.
The Thunder of Giants by Joel Fishbane (2015). In this debut novel, Joel Fishbane recounts the dual and intertwining stories of two women: Anna Swan and Andorra Kelsey (both of whom are almost eight feet tall). Anna lives in the mid-19th century and struggles to be more than an attractive side show performance whereas Andorra lives in the early 20th century and struggles to get her family out of poverty, find a life she can be satisfied with, and distance herself from the hurt and abandonment of her parents. It’s a very well written and engaging book that reads really quickly. I highly recommend it.
Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories edited by James Thomas, Denise Thomas, and Tom Hazuka (1992). This collection of flash fiction (approximately 750 words or shorter) features such well-known authors as Raymond Carver, Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, and John Updike. Each story is self-contained, and each is extraordinarily well written. Unlike some short story collections, which can be hit or miss and/or plodding, this reads very quickly – it took maybe two hours total to read. I was surprised by how much I loved it, and it makes me excited to read other flash fiction collections. Highly recommend.
God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls by Jaime Hernandez (2012). This graphic novel follows the adventures of Angel, a normal, apartment-dwelling girl who suddenly finds herself thrust into the world of superheroes and villains as they try to stop Penny Century, an extremely powerful new superhero who’s gone mad with power and grief at losing her two children. We meet several superhero groups including the Fenoms, the best of the best, the Zolars, who are all under the age of 21, and the Ti-Girls, an older group that was long considered defunct. I love this graphic novel, and this is my second time reading it (I even got Jaime to sign it at CAKE!). I cannot recommend it enough. It is so incredibly good.
Penny Century: A Love and Rockets Book by Jaime Hernandez (2010). This is Volume 4 in the “Locas” series, and it is all over the place, covering women’s wrestling, the superhero and sex bomb Penny Century, and Maggie and her friends Hopey, Ray, and Izzy. There are a lot of sobering moments in this volume with focus on the journey and the effort rather than any particular successes. It’s full of a lot of family drama and helps solidify just how awesome Maggie is. It’s a really good graphic novel though you’d probably want to start with the first volume of the Locas series, Maggie the Mechanic.