Samuel R. Delany, Babel-17

Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany My rating: 4 of 5 stars In a coruscating epistolary critique of The Bluest Eye, innocuously titled "Letter to Q——" in the 2005 collection About Writing, Samuel R. Delany tabulates what he sees as the many flaws of Toni Morrison's classic first novel. The gravamen of his indictment is that Morrison … Continue reading Samuel R. Delany, Babel-17

Octavia E. Butler, Kindred

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler My rating: 5 of 5 stars This 1979 classic novel of time travel and slavery could not be published today. Imagine it, imagine Octavia Butler temporally jumped to the present and trying to put out Kindred in the current media climate. Assume, because it's so good, that the novel even finds … Continue reading Octavia E. Butler, Kindred

Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano López, The Eternaut

The Eternaut by Héctor Germán Oesterheld My rating: 4 of 5 stars Though The Eternaut only appeared in an English translation in 2015, it is often considered one of the central texts in the canon of Latin American comics and graphic novels, a work of the stature of—in other national or linguistic traditions—Maus or Watchmen, … Continue reading Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano López, The Eternaut

Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut My rating: 2 of 5 stars But was I wrong, in "In Praise of Semicolons," to be so severe in my judgment of Kurt Vonnegut, to castigate him for infantilism? I decided to find out by reading what is regarded as the author's masterpiece, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969). Slaughterhouse-Five is Vonnegut's sixth novel, and includes … Continue reading Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows, Providence

Providence Act 1 by Alan Moore My rating: 4 of 5 stars It is with hesitation that I write anything about Providence. This recent three-volume graphic novel—a prequel/sequel to the earlier works, The Courtyard and Neonomicon—represents Alan Moore's meticulously-researched and carefully-arranged synthesis of H. P. Lovecraft's mythos, whereas I am only the most casual reader … Continue reading Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows, Providence

Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira

Akira, Vol. 1 by Katsuhiro Otomo My rating: 3 of 5 stars The 1980s—the latest, the last golden age. The length and breadth of our politics, our pop culture, even our high culture, was laid down in that decade. Everyone now is either trying to overthrow it or recapture it or some incoherent combination of … Continue reading Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira

Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart, Seaguy

Seaguy by Grant Morrison My rating: 3 of 5 stars Thanks to all my regular readers who come here in search of slightly more traditional essays on the "classics," however defined, for holding on tight through my now year-long re-reading of comic-book writer Grant Morrison. My own perhaps too hasty disparagement of Morrison in my … Continue reading Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart, Seaguy

Alan Moore, Miracleman

Miracleman, Book Three: Olympus by Alan Moore My rating: 4 of 5 stars In the 1980s, Alan Moore, the most celebrated writer in the history of mainstream Anglophone comics, made his name by telling the same story four times. In Miracleman, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing, and Watchmen, a commanding male figure, superior of intellect … Continue reading Alan Moore, Miracleman

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood My rating: 3 of 5 stars Some books are so famous, so ubiquitous in the culture, that you feel you have read them well before you ever read them. You feel, in fact, that you don't need to read them. This is what kept me from reading The Handmaid's … Continue reading Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

J. D. Bernal, The World, the Flesh, and the Devil

The World, the Flesh and the Devil: An Enquiry Into the Future of the Three Enemies of the Rational Soul by J.D. Bernal My rating: 3 of 5 stars When I saw Verso's 2017 reissue of this 1929 book in the library, I picked it up because I vaguely recalled that it had informed Grant … Continue reading J. D. Bernal, The World, the Flesh, and the Devil