Thursday, August 28, 2008

Too Cool to Be Forgotten and Shirley

Here's how this works: I finish reading something, and I tell you about it, and I try not to bore you to death. This time, reviews, of sorts, of Too Cool to Be Forgotten (Top Shelf, 2008) and Shirley (DC/CMX, 2008).

I came late to Alex Robinson, getting two of his better-known books in the last year or so while he was in the studio working on this strange little time travel story, where a fellow undergoes hypnosis in a bid to quit smoking and finds himself stuck in the past, given a new chance to never start in the first place... but is that the only "fix" to his own history that he can make?

I liked it very much, and I'm being hopelessly unfair to Robinson by finding quibbles, but what made Box Office Poison and Tricked so engaging was the effortless juggling of POVs among multiple protagonists. There isn't anything wrong with the comparatively slim Too Cool to Be Forgotten, and its remarkable evocation of 1980s high school is great fun, and we should certainly applaud creators who can avoid expectations so well (which brings me to the next subject, below), but, selfishly, I will impatiently wait for a new 600-page Robinson tome with a huge cast as soon as is feasible. Recommended.

What interests me most about Kaoru Mori is her exquisite artwork, especially in period architecture and costume, immersing readers in her Victorian/Edwardian romances through outdoor crowd scenes and huge parties. But the seven stories in this collection predate her better-known Emma by some time, during which Mori was (slowly) learning to draw more than just faces and bodies. Five of the stories are wish-fulfillment tales of a practically perfect in every way thirteen year-old who finds work as a maid, and the others are not-disagreeable short stories with maid protagonists. I don't know what her interest or fetish is, either.

Emma, itself, was a very frustrating read which I could only recommend on the strength of the gorgeous art, which is what led me to try this. I'd recommend this about as strongly as I would Gregory Maguire's umpteenth revisionist fairy tale. If I wanted a one trick pony, I'd buy one, and the next thing I sample from Mori better not have any more goddamn maids in it.

(Originally posted August 28, 2008 at hipsterdad's LJ.)

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