The humour in the Garfield comics has always been a bit uneven--some days are definitely funnier than others in the Garfield universe--and this comic is certainly one of the moments that feels more twisted than funny. I think my reaction was about the same as that of Garfield in the final pane. It's more startling than funny. And it also reveals something odd about the comic--none of the male human characters are portrayed as being well-adjusted adults. Jon Arbuckle, for example, is extremely childish and would appear to have a relatively low IQ, and his brother Doc Boy is more or less tarred with the same brush. The women, however, are usually portrayed as fairly capable--Liz the Vet for example, or Jon's mother. The only possible exception to this rule is Lyman, and even he has not been seen in the strip since 1984, which is the same year that Jon went from being a cartoonist with an average IQ to an unemployed idiot whose only role was to look after Garfield and Odie.
Thursday, 27 April 2017
Every now and again it happens. A book comes out and everyone is raving about it. Everyone loves, love, absolutely loves it. The book gets loads praise from prominent public figures, and lots of lovely, lovely glittering four and five star reviews and bloggers. Finally, a copy falls into my hands and ... well, I just don't get it. Sadly, Summer Skin, which was so well-received by readers in early 2016 was one of those books. I gave the book three chances, over the space of about a year, before, finally pushing my way through, and wondering what it was that everyone else had seen in it that I had missed ...
Summer Skin tells the story of Jess, an outspoken feminist, set against a back drop of Brisbane Universities and hook up culture. Presumably, Jess is in her late teens. She lives in a co-ed dorm of a fairly modern and liberal university, and her enemy is the all-boys dorm from a different university. She meets one of the boys from Knights College in strange circumstances which leads to a hate at first sight relationship ...
The set up is great and what I did appreciate about this story is that the lead character is a feminist, and the author tries very hard--and succeeds--in having a meaningful discussion of what it means to be a feminist in twenty-first century Australia. It is not used as a cheap backdrop, or as a meaningless plot device to keep the heroine away from her love interest for a little while. Mitch is presented as a character who is tough on the surface, but whose vulnerabilities make him seem very real. Both of these things are rare in a New Adult novel, where the focus is normally ... well, actually some scenes are pretty damn hot.
The problem that I had with this book was trying to follow it. The author and I seemed to be on very different wavelengths. Early on, I felt as though I had just been dropped into a war zone in a foreign country. (Or in that YouTube video that starts off with "Hi, my name's Catrina!) There is no meaningful introduction to the characters or their situations. I would have liked more of an introduction to Jess and the event that led to the her hating Knights College. (Because, frankly, the way the Knights boys treated Farran deserves a lot more discussion.) Also, the experiences of Jess were just so different from my own experiences at university that I found them very difficult to relate to.
This one was not a winner for me, but plenty of other readers have enjoyed it.
This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2017
Wednesday, 26 April 2017
Quicksand had me hooked. Completely and utterly. It's a book that ticked many of the right boxes for me. An interesting premise, check. Well written, check. An impossible situation, check. An unreliable narrator, check. And a blurb that promises what it delivers? Check, check, check.
Maja Norberg has been in jail for the past nine months, awaiting trial for a shooting at her school in Sweden. Her best friend Amanda, and her boyfriend Sebastian are among the dead. So are many of her classmates. But from the outset, as Maja begins to describe the moments following the shooting, I got the feeling that something wasn't quite right. Was she guilty of what she had been accused of, innocent, or have the lines of right and wrong blurred so much that she is something in between? Is she a spoiled rich girl, a victim of an abusive boyfriend, or a bystander too weak, or perhaps complacent, to speak up when she should--not matter what the cost.
And, come to think of it, what on earth would I have done if I had been in Maja's shoes?
As Maja drip feeds the reader information, I found my theories about what happened that day either confirmed or blown out of the water. That said, this is more than a straight out did she or didn't she situation. There is also a huge level of social commentary throughout the story. Do we treat people better or worse based upon the amount of money that they have? Are they treated better or worse because of where they live? Do we expect certain things from others based upon their education, religion, race and economic situation? Sebastian is the living example of the poor rich kid, the one who has everything and can get away with everything, yet lacks a loving family, proper supervision and respect for others. Maja is equally complex--she is sharp, has an excellent insight into human nature, and yet seems to be a product of both her environment, and her own poor choices. Then again, did she ever really have any choices? She certainly lacks support from the people that she needs most.
Unputdownable, intelligent and full of surprises. Highly recommended.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for sending me an ARC of Quicksand.
Tuesday, 25 April 2017
This memorial in North Terrace pays respect to the brave Australians who served in the 8th Division during World War Two--such as my grandfather, Jack White.
These soldiers were involved in the fall of Singapore, found themselves in Changi and some worked on the Burmese Railway. Many died, along the way, but a few made it back to Australia. Although my grandfather was lucky enough to make it back to Australia, where he became engaged twice, married once and fathered five sons, he was plagued with health problems and died when he was still relatively young. He never met his youngest son, my uncle, or any of his grandchildren.
Monday, 24 April 2017
Well, this was certainly a surprise ... I am a fan of Donald Duck comics (particularly the ones by comic genius Carl Barks,) and I had no idea until I walked inside Dymocks recently that US based publisher fantagraphics has been republishing some of the classic Donald Duck comics in a beautiful, keepsake edition. This particular volume reprinted The Golden Helmet, a Donald Duck adventure penned by Barks where Donald, accompanied by his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie, travels by boat to Norway to find the Golden Helmet, thus preventing it from falling into criminal hands. This one is all good fun, with plenty of adventure, along with a bit of wordplay and comic humour (look close at some of the museum exhibits in the background.)
This one was quite pricey (possibly because it was an import,) but I enjoyed it and also the shorter comics that filled the final third of the book. (And damn I hate that Gladstone Gander!)
Saturday, 22 April 2017
"Exactly. She does not shine as a wife even in her own account of what occurred. I am not a whole-souled admirer of womankind, as you are aware, Watson, but my experience of life has taught me that there are few wives having any regard for their husbands who would let any man's spoken word stand between them and that husband's dead body. Should I ever marry, Watson, I should hope to inspire my wife with some feeling which would prevent her from being walked off by a housekeeper when my corpse was lying within a few yards of her."