The Black Dossier by Alan Moore is a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen sequel, set in an alternate timeline after the regime of Orwell's 1984 has been overthrown. The comic narrative is interspersed with spoof documents from the black dossier.
Found it hard to get into this. The overall storyline is a bit of a perfunctory framing device, and I didn't find most of the texts that compelling. Might work better if you own the book and can keep dipping into it, but I got this copy from the library.
What I'm Reading 2
Fashion Beast is an odd project by Alan Moore. Originally it was a film script he wrote in the Eighties with Malcolm McClaren, a kind of Beauty and the Beast story set in the fashion industry in a dystopian world. The film was never made, but the story was recently adapted into a comic.
I actually enjoyed this a lot. The story is eighties-cheesy in some ways, but the characters are appealing and there are some nice mythic elements. Not a masterpiece but a decent story.
What I'm Reading 3
Umbrella by Will Self. Not an easy read: the whole novel is written as a stream of consciousness weaving together several stories, without any chapter or section breaks, the narrative switching mid-sentence. One story has an Awakenings-style doctor Busner reviving a group of mental patients in the Seventies. One of the patients is a suffragette and first world war munitions worker: other storylines concern her, and her brother's experiences in the trenches. Another story has the elderly Busner remembering his experiences in the present day.
While the stories are almost unremittingly bleak, with great hopes repeatedly dashed, I found this a very compelling book to read. It's not as heavy going as Ulysses, since it (as far as I can see) doesn't have as complicated an external network of references. However from the reviews I think people who are unfamiliar with London and British history and culture seem to be struggling more: it must be a lot more baffling to outsiders.
I found it very rewarding, I already think this will be one of my best books of the upcoming year. However, it's definitely grim and effortful to read, so I can't really recommend people to rush out and get it for a nice holiday read.
What I'm Reading 4
The Gigantic Beard that was Evil is another graphic novel that's got a lot of acclaim lately. It's a kind of parable set in the pathologically tidy and clean-shaven land of Here, a man finds himself growing a vast and unstoppable beard, which starts to introduce a note of chaos.
Very good book. The text is sparse but the drawings are very well done: pencil sketches lovingly detailing the impeccably neat landscape and people. Well worth reading.
Have the baby at home now, he's doing fine. Seems to have decided he likes to sleep all day and party all night though.
Politics. London student protests. Exiting the vampire castle. We care about young women as symbols, not as people.
Pics. Confiscated toys.
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