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mordicai caeli

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February 15th, 2013

Mekong Monet. (10) [Feb. 15th, 2013|07:33 am]
mordicai caeli
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[Current Mood |Saigon Blues.]
[Current Music |crown me king- mutant stegosaurus]

Vietnamerica by GB Tran.

Last comes your first name.
Family name, then middle name,
then finally, yours.

This is carmyarmyofme's second pick for Eleven-Books Club, her first one being The Poisoner's Handbook...& I really liked it! You know, I normally shy away from autobiographical comics, since I tend to find them insufferable; they seem so anxious to be taken "seriously" that they all dwell on what in a film would be called "Oscar bait," but what I call "feel-bad stories." You know, the opposite of "feel-good," so like, stories of physical abuse or addiction or whatever. Jennifer reminded me that I liked American Born Chinese & The Arrival; maybe I like immigration comics? I don't know, I couldn't tell you. I liked this, though, I can tell you that much. First off, the problems all of which dovetail into the broader issue-- clarity of identity. You know, I stopped reading The Walking Dead once I'd caught up to the individual issues, because once you have black & white illustrations, it gets hard to suss out who is who. There is a reason Superman has a spit curl, & that Reed Richards or Hal Jordan have grey sideburns; heck, there is a reason that people in comics have their sigil on their chest-- it is easy to get confused. In Vietnamerica, there is a family tree on the inside of the cover, which I ended up referring to about as often as the family tree in One Hundred Years of Solitude.

That family tree, while a necessary tool, itself caused some issues-- see, the genealogy of their family includes a couple of dead or deadbeat French folks, too, & a lot of the children of each generation actually come from previous marriages. Reading the story, this is sort of taken as...well, GB Tran's family don't really talk about it, but it isn't exactly secret, so the narrative's relationship to the story "reveals" are a complicated, too. Events in general are a little jumpy, due to the nature of the frame, which roughly centers around Tran going to Vietnam to meet his grandparents. Their stories, his parents stories, his life in America, all intercut. Anyhow, what was so great about this? I don't know, the verisimilitude of it? It certainly reads as true & meaningful, without playing up dramatic angles past plausibility or reader engagement. Yeah, it sounds like there was some awful stuff going on, & by not giving it the Hollywood glitz, Tran gives it that much more impact. It seems like it actually happened, because it did. He doesn't need to use hyperbole or paint it in dark lines; the real world will handle that. Art wise, the modified Communist propaganda look is strong, but the photo collage of his parents, not sprung until three-quarters of the way through the book, really hits it out of the park.
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More Like "Cuddlefish." [Feb. 15th, 2013|11:26 am]
mordicai caeli
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[Current Mood |Nautiloid.]
[Current Music |crown me king- cuttle command.]

A super nice Valentine's Day! Thanks, guy, for...dying horribly? I'm pretty sure you were brutally martyred or something, right? I'm not going to check Wikipedia but I'm pretty sure. Anyhow, it was at Television Night-- the usual crew, more of the Joe Schmo bounty hunter season-- when Jennifer told me that she wanted to "do something" for Valentine's Day. So here is the thing; she can be a tricky bird to get a read on! We went out to lunch with Cassie & Jenny was talking about it, a little. She doesn't care about it, but cares about it enough that she wants something to commemorate it, but doesn't want that to be expensive, but wants it to be something cool...I joked about her being the no-win scenario, the Kobayashi Maru of wives. I tease though, she's just verbalizing her feelings! That is valuable because I am a little bit sociopathic & sometimes need a straight-forward road map of how to behave. Anyhow, since it was sprung on me & I was unprepared, I had to think fast! Actually, I just took the advice of Stephanie from the Trollathon, & looked on Open Table. Nabbed a nice reservation at The Crab Spot, & headed over there. The verdict on Crab Spot? Positive, with caveats that still end up in the black. First, the problem: they were clearly unprepared for the Valentine's Day rush. Our food was really slow in coming...probably because they had to mince ceviche for half the people in the place. That said, they were very apologetic & comped us a second bottle of wine, which is...well, which is a completely acceptable way of saying they are sorry? I mean, I remember the textbook rush at Kit Marlowe & Co. Sometimes you are just slammed & there is nothing to be done about it except grin, bear it, & push through. Anyhow, the food was really good! After the ceviche I had a Wesport boil. You know about boils, right? 'cause I don't. It is like...a Louisiana thing, maybe? It feels swampy to me, like part of that Cajun situation. Then again, it could be like a New England thing, too. Anyhow it was half a crab, a whole lobster, a sausage, melted butter, corn & some potatoes. I dominated that lobster! I got a whole claw out, whole, & the whole tail out in one piece, too. So dinner was a long conversation about simple machines, punctuated by two bottles of wine, culminating eventually in a feast of ocean bugs. Then we walked home & did a gift swap; I got her a Gil Hibben dagger that I'd admired since I was a wee sprout. It is what I always imagined that Raistlin's silver dagger (concealed with a "cunning thong") looked like, actually. She got me a cuttlefish print, made with real cuttlefish!

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