I often joke that everything I know about Israel I learned from comic books. As a secular Jew with deep ambivalence about Israel, this quip has served as a shield against being engaged on the topic by friends and colleagues on either side of the Zionist divide.More
I spent a good portion of 2010 playing the Cassandra, mongering doom and gloom about the heat death of the alternative comics universe. What a difference a couple of years make.
Last year, a significantly revised fourth edition of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics appeared, covering 110 nations, regions, and languages, and with 250 new entries on subjects ranging from “boustrophedon” (bidirectional texts) to “hip-hop poetry” and “anthem, national.” Since the PEPP has long been a resource for poets and poet-critics as well as scholars, Public Books asked poets to respond to individual entries in this new edition in verse and prose.More
If there is a comics geek in your life (or if you happened recently to mention to family or friends a passing interest in “graphic novels”), this holiday season you are likely to find yourself the recipient of a beautiful but mystifying object: Building Stories. But don’t worry, we here at Public Books can help: just follow these simple steps!More
Two recent books serve as potent reminders of the ongoing historiographic obsessions of graphic narrative. Leela Corman’s Unterzakhn and Mark Siegel’s Sailor Twain are both ambitious historical graphic novels that return to early periods of New York history. Using strikingly different visual styles and narrative techniques, both create deeply haunting fables that, like much of the best historical fiction, resonate with questions and challenges of our present moment.More
It has been a good fifteen years now since our cultural gatekeepers collectively patted themselves on the back for having discovered that comics were “not just for kids anymore,” and in that time several remarkable achievements in the form have found their way into the critical spotlight. But for every Persepolis and Fun Home that has become the focus of such attention, the last generation has also seen dozens of major works of graphic literature largely ignored by those who do not buy their books in stores with names like “The Laughing Ogre” or “Forbidden Planet.”More
House of Holes, Nicholson Baker’s celebrated return to dirty fiction, conjures an alternate sexual universe, where a broad range of heterosexual men and women (and one detached male body part) find deep, gushing satisfaction with one another, largely unconstrained by the anxieties, frustrations, and misunderstandings that bedevil modern sexuality. Slipping out of their unfulfilling lives through overlooked circular openings in their immediate surroundings, Baker’s characters find a world where good will abounds, no sexual predilection is disparaged, jealous resentments recede, and everyone goes home happy.More