Sex Criminals, Volume 2: Two Worlds, One Cop, Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
They’re back, and they’re still fucking each other and playing with time! And for this volume, Jon and Suzie go from powerless to empowered. The couple also struggles with their relationship problems and fights back against the Sex Police, particularly the woman hilariously nicknamed Kegelface.
I find that the second volume is pretty consistent with my observations on the first one, and it’s like I didn’t spend more than a year between volumes. It’s still “witty, funny, beautifully illustrated” and rings true in terms of both romantic relationships and “authority” figures — and I got a huge kick out of seeing the two protagonists take the initiative and hit Kegelface where it hurts.
Hmmm. I don’t have the third volume yet. I must fix that ASAP.
The Eternaut, Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano López
I’ve always loved Humble Bundle for introducing me to “new” works for super-low prices. The Eternaut, or El Eternauta, is one of those gems. This Argentinian science-fiction classic is about an alien invasion that wipes out most of the human race, with the very few survivors uniting to fight against the cunning extraterrestrials.
The concept of a man traveling through time to reunite with his wife and daughter — and framing that in 1960s/1970s Argentina — makes the 300+ page compilation of The Eternaut issues a compelling read. There’s also an excellent balance between the humans coping with the situation and gaining ground, and the aliens outsmarting them at every turn. You can feel the desperation of the characters, along with strong contempt for the invaders.
I suggest you give yourself substantial breaks while The Eternaut; I tried reading it in only a couple of days (three, maybe), and by the end I felt as weary and hopeless as the characters. And speaking of some characters, I found some of them to be too good to be true. Favalli was too perfect as an inventor and strategist, and the power the aliens had over their humanoid “allies” was explained too neatly. But overall, I loved the graphic novel, and its strong political and sci-fi tones.
Get the digital version of The Eternaut (English version) from comiXology.
Adventures in a Forgotten Country, Kerima Polotan Tuvera
This was the first MFA-required book I had to read in full, for my creative nonfiction class last term. It’s a collection of travel essays and life notes from one of the Philippines’ best writers, and while I had to read the entire 248-page book in two days (crammer forever!), it’s a book I’d go through again if I had the time to do so, and recommend to others.
For starters, I like her writing style: she is highly observant, lyrical, sarcastic, and controlled in her recollections. She makes you feel as if you’re on the journey with her throughout the Philippines and beyond, and many of her comments on our country and people (particularly the bad stuff) are still true today. It takes a while to get used to her style of using entire paragraphs for a sentence, interchanging “I” with “one”, and her repetition of certain descriptions, but you’ll be breezing through the book when you’ve got all that down.
However, we as a nation and people have also changed within the 39 years since the book’s first printing. Her stance on politics, interracial dating, working girls, etc. would be out of place in today’s political correctness and social justice; and her lack of comments over her time in the service of Imelda Marcos was downright disappointing. The Philippines she knew may mostly be gone and/or forgotten, but in the end, some things will always last.
Get Adventures in a Forgotten Country at UP Press.
The Sky over Dimas, Vicente Garcia Groyon
This is the second MFA-required book I read, this time for my just-concluded fiction techniques class. Set in Bacolod from the ’60s to the present day, Groyon’s first novel (his thesis requirement for the same creative writing program I’m enrolled in, and which he now teaches in) is as familiar and Negrense as it gets.
Dimas is a family saga that has a wide coverage: the lazy and spoiled lifestyle and mentality of Bacolod’s sugar clans; severely underpaid sugarcane workers; mental illness and emotional isolation; murder; romantic affairs; teacher-student relationships; underage elopement; ruined public reputations; and disastrous personal choices. To use the voice of an exaggeration-loving TV host, it’s so “action-packed!!!”
Readers will relate to the themes and associated emotional impact, and Groyon’s distinct writing style will keep you turning pages. The only qualms I have are that the secondary characters sometimes seemed more interesting than the main ones, and that the buildup toward the climax in the titular location has a better payoff than the actual climax. It was fitting, alright, but part of me felt it was a huge letdown. That’s it? That’s how it ends?
Get The Sky over Dimas at UP Press.