What are you reading?

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby OL » Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:37 pm

Been wanting to get further into the lore of the Warhammer 40k universe ever since finishing Space Marine, and I'd heard this was a pretty good place to start. And in a fictional universe as expansive and fleshed-out as Warhammer 40k, it's daunting trying to find a good jumping point.
Seems really good so far.


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Re: What are you reading?

Postby QWERTY » Tue Jan 07, 2014 2:03 am

Just picked this up for $10. I haven't read a decent graphic novel for a while so looking forward to getting stuck into this. Quite a beastly 700 pages though!

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Guardian review

Guardian review wrote:The artist's first flowering is a big deal in any memoir. Li Kunwu's comes in the mid-1960s when he and his friends are on a Mao-inspired crusade. "Complicated haircuts are a legacy of the decadent classes," rules ringleader Hongbao, but the sly local hairdresser claims his illiterate clientele won't be able to read the list of restrictions they've written. So 11-year-old Li spends the night sketching barnet after barnet, marking stray curls, fancy bows and anything else that might get in the way of serious labour with a bold "X". The signs go up, the hairdresser glowers, and Li can celebrate: "It was my first artistic success, and it wasn't just any success. It was a revolutionary success."

The incident – which manages to be both a youthful jape and a depressing suppression of freedom – is told straight and unapologetically by an artist who was born in China's poor southwest in 1955, who went hungry in the Great Leap Forward, tramped borders for the People's Liberation Army, drew cartoons for his province's paper and ended up hobnobbing with mineral-water magnates in the southwestern city of Kunming, and French artists at Angoulême's famous comics festival.

Li's epic memoir, serialised in France between 2009 and 2011, was co-written with French writer and diplomat Ôtié. If you don't know your Chinese history, parts of it will mystify, and stretches of this 700-page odyssey drag a little. But this very human march through the making of modern China deserves a wide audience.

Li, the son of a party official and a peasant woman from the hills, grows up in an age of reform. Keen to "beat the Brits and catch up with the Americans", the people give up their iron for smelting, chop down forests to fuel furnaces and tear down pagodas for manure. Folklore is suppressed, farms are collectivised and famine batters town and country. Then the Cultural Revolution comes, bringing purges and paranoia, as Li and his classmates follow the Red Guard with doe-eyed enthusiasm, and gleefully denounce their neighbours.

Historians dispute the impact of China's postwar reforms – although few deny that millions died in the brutally mismanaged Great Leap Forward. A Chinese Life's ground-level perspective focuses on anecdote rather than statistics: the uncle gored to death while trying to steal food from a buffalo; Li swatting flies as he squats to defecate; dirty, cowed teachers with accusatory boards hanging from their necks. At times it's grim, at others funny. "Comrade, don't you realise," the po-faced children tell a baffled restaurateur. "These are reactionary dishes! You'll have to change the whole menu!"

As Li grows, his skill at drawing is spotted: he gets an art teacher, whose pious canvases of Mao cover paintings of nude women, and is later invited to work for a provincial paper. It's easy to see why he was noticed. A Chinese Life's black-and-white artwork is dominated by vibrant images of jostling crowds, leaping children and heaving markets, their urgent life interspersed with sculpted propaganda portraits, beautifully still landscapes and fantastical visions. Li is less interested in character – his faces are often rendered so simply as to feel anonymous – than in backdrops: the roofs and windows of rural settlements, the skyscraping urban landscapes, or tree stumps pointing fruitlessly into the gloomy sky.

The narrative loses some of its focus as it enters the modern age, where the now-established artist charts the successes and the flaws of entrepreneurial China. Here Li darts between massage parlours, flash restaurants and remote villages in an approach that can feel contrived. It's a shame, meanwhile, that Li's touching relationships with his parents, and his briefly sketched marriage aren't given more time.

Yet A Chinese Life remains richly rewarding. Li's loyalty to the party, whether embodied by Mao's teachings or Deng Xiaoping's reforms, rarely wavers, and that in itself is fascinating. The book never mentions Tibet, and barely touches on Tiananmen Square; he knew no one there, explains Li, and anyway, having seen the effects of "invasion, plunder, unequal treaties, internal divisions, battles among warlords", he believes China needs order and stability first: "the rest is secondary".

This is no definitive account of modern China. It won't tell you much about policy decisions, power struggles, or almost anything Li didn't himself witness. If it did, its scope would be mind-boggling. Instead, its tight focus gives you a wonderfully immediate sense of how one man was shaped by modern China, and the agonising struggles that took place around him.

This ambitious graphic novel pulls you to the chest of the world's latest superpower, shows you something of what it has gained and lost, and lets you go, 60 years later, drained and intrigued and feeling as though you know China's great, tangled present a little bit better.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Bambi » Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:48 am

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Jokatech19 » Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:29 pm

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Calshot » Thu Mar 13, 2014 1:37 am

If you enjoyed The Room, you will enjoy this book.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Bambi » Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:42 pm

Calshot wrote: If you enjoyed The Room, you will enjoy this book.
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Added to my wish list.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Thief » Thu Jun 19, 2014 1:44 pm

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Quite possibly the most perfect, beautiful, and strange book I have ever read, and a new absolute favorite of mine (as I expect its follow-up, Gormenghast, to be as well). I insist that everyone read it.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby OL » Sat Jun 13, 2015 12:33 am

Been working out a helluva lot lately, and one of the machines I have at home is sort of a stationary bicycle kind of thing, except with a backrest to the seat, so you can comfortably lean back while you pedal.
As I was making use of it, it occurred to me that this would be a great place to start reading more, since my legs would be working for long spans of time with my hands completely free. I usually don't find much time to read otherwise, so it's been pretty beneficial.

In the past two months, I've read three books by Hideyuki Kikuchi; Vampire Hunter D, Vampire Hunter D: Raiser of Gales, and the first book in the Demon City Shinjuku duology. All pretty entertaining, though Kikuchi does seem to have a knack for the the more anime-esque side of things; regardless of the fact that both properties do have anime analogs, the action in the books really does read like anime on the page, very visual and full of crazy-ass concepts. It's kind of cheesy, but enjoyable all the same. I really like Kikuchi now; seems like a very, very inventive guy. Looking forward to more by him.

And I just started in on the intimidating task of reading through this monster of an omnibus:


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Collects three books, weighs in at 750 pages with tiny print. Absolutely daunting, just like all the other 40k omnibuses I have.
Been meaning to read more in my Warhammer 40k collection for a while now. Really, really enjoyed the hell out of the Ultramarines Omnibus a little over a year ago. Served as an excellent start with this enormous franchise, but it was long enough that I really needed to take a bit of a break after finishing it. But I got in the mood again recently, so yet again it's go time.
Only two chapters in so far, but I'm totally hooked. It's always interesting as hell to me, learning about a new section of the Space Marines through a story (beats the hell out of a wiki page). And the Soul Drinkers are pretty fucking awesome so far. Loving how different they are from the Ultramarines.
And the best thing about the Soul Drinkers is that, while most other Space Marine chapters have ongoing stories, so there's really no definitive "end" in sight for them, the Soul Drinkers have a story that has to cut off at some point. I already know the basics of where their story leads, so I'm pretty psyched about following it to the end. Should play out like a grand, ultraviolent tragedy.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby GoldenLotus » Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:47 am

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To know your enemy, you must become your enemy - Sun Tzu
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby south carmain » Sat Jun 13, 2015 11:28 pm

GoldenLotus wrote: Image

Read that a few weeks ago. The English translation is pretty weak compared to the French one.

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Miles Prower » Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:47 pm

MaddAdam by Margaret Atwood (the final book in the trilogy of the same name), and eagerly awaiting the HBO TV adaptation of the series.
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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Crimson Ryan » Wed Jun 17, 2015 4:29 pm

Sony Design Making Modern

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby Cyclonus » Wed Jun 17, 2015 7:43 pm

I've started reading...Well, I'm about halfway through the fullmetal alchemist manga. I was very late to this particular party and I love it. Other than that, I recently finished reading ready player one and now I'm thinking of moving on to Heart Of Darkness or possibly revisiting the discworld series.
Maybe at some point I'll stick a more appropriate quote here that doesn't appeal to my former 15 year old self.

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Re: What are you reading?

Postby elfshadowreaper » Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:53 pm

Fullmetal is great. Have fun!

My new favorite fantasy series is kingkiller chronicle. It's so deep. So much detail in the story.
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