Friday, July 14, 2006


I make no secret that I'm a slow reader. However, whenever I read something in record time, I wonder what's the deal. Last year, I read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in a week. Earlier this year, I read Jim DeRogatis's Staring at Sound in less than a week. This week, I set a new record as I read something in less than 48 hours. What book was the one? Alex Robinson's graphic novel, Tricked.

David posted a nice little write-up on the book earlier this week in his ongoing "Book Notes" series. Reminding myself of Robinson's previous book, Box Office Poison, some major urges came to me with wanting to read Tricked as soon as possible.

Without ever having read a single page of Box Office Poison, I put the book on my Christmas list a few years ago. All that I knew about the book was that there was a storyline about comics and movies. With a name like Box Office Poison, I thought I was getting a harsh satire/ribbing of the movie industry's development of comics into movies. Instead, I found the book to hit really close to home with me and my post-collegiate relationships. Sure, there's plenty of bitter, cynical stuff about the comics industry, but the core of the book is about friendship. With what I was going through at the time (the erosion of a couple close friendships), Box Office Poison really spoke to me. The book still speaks to me as I can still relate to the story.

With Robinson's latest book, Tricked, this is a whole other animal. Yes, there's plenty of everyday relationship stuff in it, but this plays out more like films like Short Cuts or Magnolia, sans an ending with a natural disaster happening. While I'll say I enjoyed the book overall, I can't say I really enjoyed most of the main characters turning a little too dark. There's room to care for these characters but not a whole lot of room to cheer for them. That said, this isn't a retread or a miss-step.

You could say that a graphic novel is not a book per se, but if the thing is bound like a book, then it's a book to me. Tricked is 300+ pages long and is a real page-turner. I had a really hard time putting the book down and now I'm having a hard time putting down Stephen King's On Writing. Jason from the Happy Bullets recommended the book to me earlier this year and I finally got around to reading it two nights ago. As of today, I'm 90 pages into it and there's no stoppage in sight. Regardless of the fact that I've never read a King book before, I'm really enjoying reading about his process in writing. So much of what I've read so far is funny and insightful, just like another book I read a few years ago: Bruce Campbell's If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a "B" Movie Actor.

As much as I love reading and writing, reading books can easily put me to sleep whenever I read in my recliner (Jason can attest to this as he's seen this happen plenty of times). Maybe I relax my eyes too much, but I'm pretty alert when I try to read after one nap. I don't mean to imply that the books' subject matter are sleep-inducing; I'm pretty sure the action of reading in a relaxed position will almost always do this to me.

People like David are doing a whole "52 books in 52 weeks" project while Jason is doing a "52 books in a year" project. I don't think I could do that, but hey, I have yet to try. A few years ago, I tried to watch 365 movies in one year just like Bob did back in '99. The most I saw was something like 85, well below my goal. Ah well, there's always next year, but there's still plenty of time left in this one . . .

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