- Kara Luger
by David B.
Years ago, Epileptic was considered a breakthrough graphic novel in Europe. It's finally washed onto our shores, and it's about damn time.
Author David B. tells of his older brother, at age 11, becoming severely epileptic. In search of a cure, their parents lead the family on an exhausting tour, visiting doctors, shamans, macrobiotic communities and quacks of all sorts "practicing" during the early 1970s.
As a form of escape, 7-year-old B. begins to draw, depicting vast battle scenes. His boyish scribblings appear throughout the book, and the detailed warriors become metaphors for his brother's epilepsy -- an invading beast that causes intense convulsions. Because he can't truly comprehend what his brother is going through, Epileptic is really about B.'s experience as he tries to understand his family and surroundings.
The illustrations are substantially complex, strong black- and-white images that at times resemble old woodcuts and tribal art. Epileptic eventually becomes the portrait of an artist, as B.'s obsession with juvenile battle scenes grows into a deep need to draw.
The novel can be almost as dense as it is fascinating. But digging through the emotion is well worth the struggle.
Cinderella's Big Score: Women of the Punk and Indie Movement
by Maria Raha
As inclusive as some of their ideologies seem, an irony of punk and indie rock is that both genres can be precisely the opposite. Women, in particular, have faced uphill battles in these music scenes, where looks and gender ideally shouldn't matter.
In Cinderella's Big Score, Maria Raha dives into a fairly comprehensive history of such women and grrls, beginning with '70s punk icons The Slits and The Runaways. She barrels through the subsequent decades to include everyone from Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads) and Kim Deal (The Pixies, The Breeders) to current warriors Le Tigre, The Gossip and Sleater- Kinney.
Reading about women like Eve Libertine (Crass), the Raincoats and Team Dresch -- all influential, yet ignored by mainstream media -- will be exciting for many. Longtime fans may wish that Raha had included interviews with these women, but Cinderella's Big Score is great for most anyone curious about women who kick rock 'n roll ass.
Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans: The Best of McSweeney's Humor Category
Edited by Dave Eggers, et. al.
McSweeney's annual Best Nonrequired Reading collections are fabulous places to snag hard-to-find fiction, nonfiction and graphic novel works. In Created in Darkness, the McSweeney's folks have tossed together the best humor from their monthly journal and website, including plenty of their brilliant lists. And they are funny, sometimes very obliquely so, and sometimes outwardly. (See the stuffed deer-head smoking a pipe on the cover? That's worth a chuckle.) Most of the authors are basically unknown, enhancing the sense that the book is something of an inside joke. Are you cool enough to get it?