What did I read (and finish) this week? Look below to find out.
Metamorphoses Books I – VIII by Ovid and translated by Frank Justus Miller (1977). These books tell stories of transformation ranging from the creation of earth and the four ages of man through the shape-shifting of King Erysichthon’s daughter and includes stories about Atalanta, Meleager, Tiresias, the Myrmidons, Latona, and Daphne (among many, many others). The translation is decent although overly fanciful, especially in the speech patterns of the characters. Still, I’ve always loved Metamorphoses and really enjoyed re-visiting it, especially since this edition had side-by-side Latin and English. I’m definitely going to grab the second volume in a couple weeks and recommend this as a staple of classical mythology (Also, the scenes with Medea and Hecate are amazing.).
The Germans of the Soviet Union by Irina Mukhina (2007). This book provides an in-depth look into the lives of ethnic Germans in the Soviet Union during the 20th century. It details their lives before and after World War II when they were deported to the territories and labeled “special settlers.” It’s the most comprehensive book on the subject I’ve yet read and a must for those interested. It can become needlessly bogged down in statistics, but I’m sure some will find those helpful.
SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki (2015). This collection of short, quickly drawn comics details the lives and personalities of the teens at SuperMutant Magic Academy, including Everlasting Boy; Gemma, the girl with the massive head; Frances, the non-conformist performance art student; and lizard-headed aspiring model Trixie. Except for the last few pages, there’s no real plot; it’s all just stand-alone comics. It meanders and doesn’t always make sense, but I still liked it. It was nice to read something without too much expectation. I actually read this a couple weeks ago but forgot to post it.
Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki (2008). In this slim graphic novel, (S)Kim Cameron, a quiet, Wicca-obsessed 16-year-old girl learns to deal with a school gone crazy over suicide prevention, a short-lived fling with her English teacher, being gay, and finding her best friend super annoying. It’s a well-crafted though somewhat predictable story whose greatest strengths are the mood and Jillian Tamaki’s amazing, detailed, Japanese woodcut-reminiscent drawings.
Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed? by Liz Prince (2014). This comic contains small strips about being in love, showing the funny and sweet side of it including flashing your boyfriend, getting hugged while you pee, and calling each other to discuss the level of boob grabbing you need to do. It’s pretty funny although I thought the drawings were a bit too rough and sometimes hard to read.
This Party Really Sucks by Leigh Luna (2014). This short comic depicts the author’s senior prom. It’s very funny and well-drawn, and I loved it.
Animal Sex by Isabella Rotman (2013). This comic is about the sex lives of various animals and includes in-depth discussions of different peni, mating rituals, and homosexual practices. The printing quality is a little low, making it hard to truly enjoy Isabella’s beautiful drawings, and so much sex/mating/genitalia can get a little uncomfortable after a while. This is not the book for the faint of heart.
Spiro’s Greek Myths Issue 1 by Spiro Dousias (2012). In this first issue, Spiro depicts the origins of several of the twelve Mt. Olympus deities, including Artemis and Apollo, Hermes, and Hephaestus. The drawings are a bit crude, but everything is well laid out and easy to understand, and Spiro does a great job of making the myths accessible. I look forward to reading his other issues.
Frontier #7: SexCoven by Jillian Tamaki (2015). This short comic talks about “SexCoven,” a fictional music/youth phenomenon that took place in the late 2000s. “SexCoven” is basically an mp3 of tonal music that is extremely popular among teens and leads to some divergent behavior. However, the fad peaks after a few years, and it’s only die-hard fans who are able to stay in tune with it in their 20s. This is a weird comic, and it suffers from a tonal shift halfway through that confuses a lot of readers. However, it does a good job of depicting the “SexCoven” phenomenon anthropologically before showing you the more human side of it and hinting at its importance – namely, being able to tap into your own thoughts and see the world around you for what it is. It’s weird, but I liked it.
Alone Forever: The Singles Collection by Liz Prince (2014). In this graphic novel, Liz Prince depicts scenes from her dating and single life, including resigning herself to being a lonely cat lady, horrific dating stories, and feeling alone even with friends. It’s a wonderful example of what it feels like to be lonely and loveless without being overly morose or melodramatic. Highly recommend.
Ongoing manga series:
Ansatsu Kyoushitsu (Assassination Classroom) by Yusei Matsui (2012 – ongoing). Ch. 143. This was a great chapter with a lot of good character work. In it, we have the kids of Class E debating the merits of killing versus curing Koro-sensei and how trying to cure him could be disrespectful to his teachings. This manga continues to deliver.
Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars!/Soma’s Cooking Battles) by Yuto Tsukuda (2012 – ongoing). Ch. 121 and 122. Finally, we’re getting somewhere! Soma continues to duke it out with Terunori, but he’s actually learning more about his opponent and the school and being nudged along by his classmates. I think it’s going to get really good again in the next couple chapters.
Gin no Saji (Silver Spoon) by Arakawa Hiromu (2011 – ongoing). Ch. 111 and 112. This slice-of-life manga is about Yuugo Hachiken, a stressed-out city kid who retires to the country to attend the prestigious Yezo Agricultural High School in Hokkaido. However, he learns that running and maintaining a farm is pretty tough work and makes friends along the way. This particular section of the manga has slowed down a bit, focusing on nuance instead of action or broad, sweeping arcs. Still, it’s really cool to see Hachiken try to start his own business and learn more aspects of the farming world. This is a surprisingly engaging read, but you would expect that from Arakawa Hiromu, the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist.