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Thursday, 28 November 2013

2013 Staff picks: Emily


So 2013 was the year I read Infinite Jest, which I mention because that is a main reason for reading Infinite Jest. And with that out of the way, let me just say that 2013 was also a very good year for providing some impeccably silly reading to shunt aside that INFINITELY hefty tome for awhile. And some serious reading too! But you may notice a li'l bias towards the giggle-inducing in the stuff I super liked this year. Of which here is a list!!


My Dirty Dumb Eyes,  Lisa Hanawalt

Don't read this one on the bus, unless you want to be that person on the bus looking at pictures of technicolour genitalia and laughing uncontrollably (although maybe someone will write you a nice missed connections so maybe actually just go for that). We were lucky enough to have Lisa do a reading at the store this summer, but even without her personal deadpan delivery, the off-the-wall and uniformly potty-mouthed comics, gags and illustrated stories in here are all pee-your-pants funny.


Brigitte, Aisha Franz

I have such a soft spot for comics about anthropomorphic animals that know they are anthropomorphic animals! Poor Brigitte not only had a rough upbringing as a stray, but she is also plagued by the fact that she can't have puppies because she's spayed, and no one else understands her pain because they are all humans. Franz' loose pencils are perfect for taking apart all of the slick Bond tropes we love so much and putting them back together in this hilarious and unexpectedly touching romp.


Saving the Season, Kevin West

So I like to think of myself as someone who would be able to pull it together in a post-apocalyptic scenario and rebuild a functional society using wilderness survival/pioneer skills (via Alas, Babylon). On that front: I've got JAM, down, at least, thanks to this totally gorgeous cookbook-slash-sort-of-memoir! Also, Kevin West is my dreamy canning-crush and he will be yours too and you will also just fantasize all day about the two of you surviving a nuclear fallout and making pickles together forever and ever.


Taipei, Tao Lin

Certainly qualifies as the "best" book of 2013—if you're into scare quotes, millennials and existential conceits that use computer interfaces as a metaphor for alienation, you probably already know this as a title to check out. Less expected: the genuine involvement and dread Lin's prose can stir up in response to the drug-fueled (or, I suppose, drug-hampered) capers of some pretty thoroughly apathetic youths. BONUS: the main character drops into D&Q, acts inappropriately!!


Rookie Yearbook 2, Tavi Gevinson

Ok so full disclosure, I got to work on this while I was an intern—but that just gave me mega insight into how much thought and care goes into production for these intensely-collaborative volumes. And also, please allow me to join the chorus of non-teens who wish this existed when I was still a teen: subjects for these super fresh articles range from essential life tips (How to make out! How to stop your toilet from overflowing!) to chats with essential celebs (Morrissey! Chris Ware!).


 The Inconvenient Indian, Thomas King

I finally picked up a copy of this pseudo-history of Native Peoples in Canada and the US when the paperback came out this summer, and it is every bit as scathingly funny as you'd expect from King, probably best-known from CBC's Dead Dog CafĂ© Comedy Hour. I say pseudo-history because A) King is unapologetic in omitting footnotes or upholding his personal take on things, but also B) he situates the issues he's talking about very much in the now. 


Junket Is Nice and Now Open the Box, Dorothy Kunhardt

These reprints of Kundhart's 1967 and 1933 children's books are the weirdest ever!! The hand-written text runs on breathlessly, essentially without punctuation, setting a speedy pace as things get increasingly and delightfully strange. Whether it's a teeny-tiny dog or a huge pudding-eating ginger that kicks off the mayhem, both of these stories gave me fairly major giggles. Thanks, NYRB, for digging up these gems!


Lose No. 5 and Very Casual, Michael DeForge

This dude is probably my favourite cartoonist, which is fortunate because he is also a robot who makes comics 24 hours a day so we can all have our fill of his strange, off-putting take on the world all of the time. Very Casual collects a bunch of older material, while the new Lose has three new one-off strips that are guaranteed to freak you out and make you feel bleak but also make you laugh and feel giddy and excited about his mind-blowing ingenuity.


Palookaville 21, Seth

Seth! There is literally no other cartoonist who could draw several meditative panels about an empty corner of a parking lot and keep me totally compelled, but that is this particular cartoonist for you. He is just too good at drawing you into the very particular—and almost impossibly well-drafted—universe that he's gradually built over the course of his career. The excerpts from his personal comics diary, which he puts together using rubber stamps of stock panels, are particularly rad.


What Purpose Did I Serve In Your Life, Marie Calloway

Calloway is best know as Tao Lin's writing protege and for publishing a totally incriminating, weakly-pseudonymous short story about a liaison with a well-known New York City critic—which earned her as much, or more, flack as it did admiration. Beyond the salacious parts of these stories (which, mind you, it's all salacious parts), I'm into the obstinacy of her self-assurance, and I'm pumped to see what she tries next.

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