What are you currently reading?
by Shigeru Mizuki
This collection of graphic shorts is about a boy (Kitaro) who can see yokai, the umbrella term for Japanese ghosts, ghouls and demons. The creator, Shigeru Mizuki, was famous for his comics about these creatures and the graphic novel Nonnonba describes his friendship with the old woman who worked for his family and was the person who introduced him to yokai in the first place.
I really love that book, and after I’d read it I was keen to read Kitaro and was disappointed that it wasn’t available at the bookstore. Imagine my surprise when someone at my flat for my Christmas party, remarked that I owned the Drawn & Quaterly edition, a collection of stories from the original manga series. I think I got it as a gift (from the same friend who encouraged me to buy Nonnonba) several years ago and forgot all about it! She doesn’t remember either.
Kitaro isn’t exactly disappointing, but I guess I expected more after Nonnonba. I believe the comics were written for a much younger reader than Nonnonba is meant for. Each story sees the boy vanquishing some yokai or other, at times with the help of other yokai. There are funny moments and some of the yokai are striking in their appearance, but, on the whole, it’s all too repetitive and I’m starting to get bored.
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
YA fantasy with an appealing premise but a singularly irritating cast of characters, especially Nancy, the self-consciously-written protagonist. I’m listening to this on Scribd and have just five more chapters to go. This is the first of a series, but I don’t know if I will continue. However, I suspect I may like it better in print because at least I won’t have to listen to the reader (Cynthia Hopkins) putting on these annoying accents for the characters.
A Fourth Form Friendship by Angela Brazil
I’m reading this for a book challenge. Seventy-eight per cent done, thank goodness!
What did you recently finish reading, or didn’t complete?
by Yeon-Sik Hong *****
This graphic memoir tells of the two years Yeon-Sik Hong lived in the Korean countryside with his wife, an aspiring picture book author. Hong is frustrated about working as an underpaid comic book artist-for-hire. Moving out of Seoul makes financial sense, and he also hopes the quiet seclusion of the place will help him concentrate and meet his deadlines. The book documents the challenges he and his wife face, with their new home, each other, and their work as creators. So far, my favourite book this year (month!).
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry *****
I listened to this on Scribd and loved it, especially the main character, Cora Seaborne whom I was not expecting at all. Really, the characters are all so well realised, they are painfully flesh-and-bone. I would like to read the paper-and-ink book soon so I can linger over the story.
The Ensemble by Aja Gabel
Abandoned in the middle of the second chapter. I liked the premise: four friends, who were at music school together, navigating the cruel cutthroat world of classical music. I listened to the audio book so maybe the reader (Rebecca Lowman) just didn’t appeal to me. I shall try to read the paper-and-ink book instead, one of these days.
What do you think you’ll read next?
The Wife by Meg Worlitzer
Lotus by Lijia Zhang
Melmouth by Sarah Perry
And all the graphic novels I own but have not got around to reading.