The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot

onebadratThe Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot
1995
136 pgs.
4.5/5

The Tale of One Bad Rat is a touching and painful story of a young girl named Helen who has been sexually abused by her father. After years of abuse, Helen has run away from home taking with her only her beloved Beatrix Potter books and her pet rat. The memories of the molestation continue to haunt her and deny her the willingness to become close to anyone else. She meets strangers throughout the way and while some are more welcoming than others, she has a hard time growing close to anyone anymore. Aside from her pet rat.

Bryan Talbot tackles this issue perfectly through the graphic novel format. Talbot has a real gift when it comes to telling unconventional tales in the format of the graphic novel. With Alice in Sunderland, he gave a history of Lewis Carroll and with this amazing, but shorter, graphic novel, he’s expertly tackled the subject of sexual abuse and it’s long term effects on children.

Helen shows all the signs of past abuse…she blames herself for what happened, diminishes herself as a person, cuts her hair off to make herself less attractive to men, and shies away from any form of love, even genuine love that has no alterior motives. This book is a gift to humanity. I think that it would be so well received in the hands of someone who’s lived through abuse of any kind. He tackles the issue in an honest way yet in a very approachable manner. Another one that I wish I didn’t have to give back to the library…

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Other Views and Opinions:

Books of Mee
Things Mean A Lot
The Hidden Side of a Leaf

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Tales From Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

51wpaf-pqtl_ss500_1Tales From Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan
2008
96 pgs.
3.75/5

As you know by now, if you read this blog, I’m a huge fan of Shaun Tan’s beautiful artwork and his fantastic storytelling. He returns with another fantastic book with Tales from Outer Suburbia. This is a quick little read, though it could certainly be enjoyed over many days. It’s a collection of (very) short stories that are well told through Tan’s creativity and fantastical art work.

All of the stories center around a theme of the suburbs. But each story tells it’s own little tale and has it’s own little message. Some are just fun reads, but others carry a deeper meaning to them. I’ve noticed in Tan’s work that he tackles the subject of immigration and being a stranger in a strange land quite frequently as seen in The Arrival. The same is true of this book. A 5 year old would love these stories, but so would their parents. Tan addresses the subject of immigration, war, peace, the environment, etc. in this short collection.

His artwork is nothing short of stunning as usual. There was one story in particular that literally took my breath away when I turned the page and saw this beautiful drawing that he produced. His art has a way of doing that. The Red Tree is another prime example of this. He conveys so much emotion through his art, draws the reader in whether words accompany his stories are not.

This is one that I wish I owned instead of having borrowed it from the library! It’s one that I certainly think would be well loved on any family’s shelf.suburbia_alert_web

Other Views and Opinions:

Reading Rants!
Stainless Steel Droppings
Bending Bookshelf
She Reads Books
readerbuzz
Peeking Between The Pages
A Striped Armchair

Mosaic Giveaway

I’ve seen this little photo meme floating around for a long time and it’s always looked like fun, so I decided to do it šŸ™‚ I decided that I’d also add a little twist to it. Leave your guesses as to what my answers are and you’re entered to win a copy of Four Letter Word, an AWESOME short story collection. And it’s about love by the way, not cursing :p You can read my review here. The person with the most correct answers will win!

The rules:
1. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
2. Using only the first page of results, pick an image.
3. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fdā€™s mosaic maker.

Now, the questions:
First name?
Favorite food?
What high school did you go to?
Favorite color?
Celebrity crush?
Favorite drink?
Dream vacation?
Favorite dessert?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
What do you love most in life?
One word to describe you.
Your flickr name.

The answers go left to right, top to bottom. Have fun and good luck!

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Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

lettherightLet the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
2004
472 pgs.
5/5

Move over Twilight, because you’ve just been blown out of the water! Carole McDonnell told me about this book a long time ago when I was reading Twilight…she said that a friend of her’s had recommded it and said that it’s a vampire love story…which it is kind of, but it’s certainly no Stephanie Meyer book. Oh no. There’s gore, sex, death, murder, mystery and a beautiful story underneath it all.

Lindqvist is a German writer who I hope explodes in the US! I’d love to see more and more of his books in print. Let the Right One in is a bit of an epic story told over the course of a few days. Young Oskar is a boy that gets picked on at school all the time. More than just picked on, he’s tortured at school and doesn’t make friend easily. One night, he notices a mysterious young girl playing on the jungle gym outside of his apartment and goes outside to meet her. He notices immediately that something isn’t normal about her. She smells funny to begin with. Her name is Eli. He and Eli quickly develop a sort of friendship, though he soon moves to obsessing over her and trying to figure out who or what she is. Though she is a 12 year old girl by appearance, he thinks she’s much more.

Meanwhile, there is what seems to be a serial killer on the loose. As the reader, we know that this killer is Eli’s housemate, a human named Hakan who seemingly has a thing for young boys. Bodies begin to turn up all over the small town and it seems that the killer is bleeding them. Other bodies are being found with their throats ripped open. And this is all just the very beginning of the story.

Lindqvist tells a tale that chills the spine at times, that’s truly terrifying at other times, and is surprisingly touching at moments. This is a smart novel, yet it holds all of the entertainment value that one could hope for. His character development is fascinating and he has the ability to make us love a character, feel for a character, or be repulsed by them. He doesn’t hold much back. At times he pushes the limit of horror novels, which I absolutely love.

This is a book that I’d highly recommend to any fan of supernatural/vampire/crime novels. It’s been made into a movie that looks fantastic and I can’t wait to watch it. What makes this book even more cool is that the title of the novel comes from a Morrissey song called “Let the Right One Slip In.” Lindqvist is certainly a cool dude and I can’t wait to read more of his novels.

Other Views and Opinions:

Reading Matters
Love Vampires
The Lair of the Undead Rat
Cynical Optimism

Mailbox Monday and Bad Bloggers!

Once again, I’m not in the mood to do a vlog…sorry guys, so I’m just doing a normal post this week. Here’s what walked into the house this past week:

Books Bought

16

ARCs, Review Copies

23

Mooched Books

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Library Books

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1. Wetlands by Charlotte Roche – I heard an interview with the publisher of this one and knew I had to have it. My review of it is already up!

2. The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – I’m so excited about this! I was jumping up and down when I got an ARC of this one. And the sad thing is, I still haven’t read Shadow of the Wind! Can you believe that?

3. Freewill by Chris Lynch – The first of many Printz books that I mooched. I’m trying to mooch the whole Printz collection :p

4. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer – Another Printz Book…point to Dewey for this one.

5. Postcards from No Man’s Land by Aidan Chambers – Printz book

6. Many Stones by Carolyn Coman – Printz book.

7. JPod by Douglas Coupland – It’s more Coupland…need I say more.

8. Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger – Printz book and LAMBDA winner.

9. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta – I bought the audiobook of this one, but I always have a hard time with audiobooks…so I checked this one out of the library.

10. Savvy by Ingrid Law – I’ve been curious about this one, and then Kailana reviewed it and I knew I had to read it…so a point to Kelly.

11. The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot – Nymeth’s fault…

12. Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan – I just love Shaun Tan’s work and hadn’t read this one…and Eva reviewed it and it sounded really good…so point to her!

13. Thriteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – Just sounds really good.

Wetlands by Charlotte Roche

wetlandsWetlands by Charlotte Roche
2008 (2009 for English translation)
229 pgs.
4.75/5

Wetlands is a book that not all will love. In fact, I would bet money on it that many people will be just plain disgusted by it. And I can’t say that I necessarily blame them. Parts of it disgusted me too…But I still really liked this novel. Wetlands is a shocker. Not in a “big reveal” sort of way or in a thriller sort of way, but in it’s subject matter and in it’s language. There were parts of this novel that literally evoked nausea in me. It’s that disturbing at times. But it’s so worth the read. I know that because I was so upset when the book ended.

Wetlands focuses on our young narrator, Helen, an 18 year old girl that’s seen and been through a lot more than she should have been at her age. The book opens with her describing her hemorhoids and she’s quickly sent to the hospital where she needs to have surgery on them. It’s here, in her hospital room where her story takes place with flashbacks to her past. Helen is less than sanitary…let’s put it that way. Though she is obsessed with the idea of personal heigene and the standards that our society puts on it. Helen is obsessed with bodily fluids of all types as well in addition to anything that the body produces…be it hers or someone else’s. Her language is not blunted, she describes things in a very raw matter, favoring the “p” word when referring to her genitals.

Helen has had many of her own sexual encounters, some of them paid for, starting at a very young age. Her suitors have ranged from people her own age to people many years older than her when she was many years younger. She’s experienced the life of her derranged mother which has certainly left some trauma issues to be dealt with, and her parents are divorced which greatly upsets her. But none of this is looked into in depth in the novel, we only see glimpses of it in Helen’s flashbacks. The main focus is on her obsession with her own body, with bacteria, with uncleanliness.

It’s been said that this novel is a major feminist work, and I can certainly see that. Nothing of the feminine is left untouched here from the subject of periods, discharges, sex and shaving. It’s all their in graphic detail and nothing is blanketed over. Roche addresses feminine heigene in this novel straight on and challenges the standards with the character of Helen. It’s almost liberating in a way to read this book and I’m not even a woman. But the extremes of which she describes allow the lesser extremes to be challenged…does that make sense?

What’s never addressed in this novel, and I believe it’s intentionally not addressed are Helen’s trauma issues. The story is told through Helen’s point of view and I don’t think she would realize them all. But many of her behaviors are quite common among survivors of severe trauma. Many people who are abused as children whether it be physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or who experience some type of traumatic even become obsessed with their bodies. I see it all the time. Children who are sexually abused often become constipated, incontinent of their bowels or urine, or become obsessed with the fluids and excrement itself. I know it’s disturbing, but it’s also fascinating in a way how the mind works. So is this novel. It’s an examination of these trauma issues and it’s a story that’s shocking, but has a deep message underneath it’s shock. Not recommended for those easily offended and definitely not recommended for children.

Let's Talk About Books!

Just as I felt myself starting to fall into a funk again, the lovely Pat (Deslily) gave me a call and pulled me out of it. That goes to show how wonderful these friendships we make online are. To anyone who says that blogging friends are not the same as “IRL” friend, I challenge that notion! Seriously, from our little 30 minute conversation about all sorts of topics, books included, I feel totally refreshed…thanks for reaching out Pat šŸ˜€

So let’s talk about what we’re reading. I’m afraid I’m in over my head right now :/ I used to be a one book reader…I was always only buried in one book. Now, I can’t remember the last time that I was only reading one book. The good thing is, I’m knocking stuff off of the TBR pile quicker and I’m reading such a variety of subjects. Right now I have 4 books going, so I thought I’d talk about them.

I’m still working on Let the Right One In and it really is fantastic. It’s a vampire love story in a way, but this is NO Stephanie Meyer book!! I saw it at Barnes and Noble today in the “staff recommends” section and the guy who recommended it wrote “Vampires! But not the angsty, sparkly kind” I laughed out loud in the middle of the store. This is a dark book, a book full of murders, vampires that can be pretty, but not all the time, evil evil people, and just a hugely engaging story…I’m loving it.

Second on the list is an ARC of Spiced by Dalia Jurgensen. I’m reallly enjoying this little book too. It’s Dalia’s memoir of becoming a pastry chef. She leaves her job as a publishing agent to pursue a life in the culinary field. And her first job is as a pastry chef at New York’s asian fusion restaurant, Nobu. She writes so well and I can just picture myself in the kitchen with her as she learns her new trade and I love reading about the nights spent after work with the restaurant gang as well.

I’m about to start Charlaine Harris’ Dead Until Dark, so I guess that one doesn’t really count yet šŸ˜‰ It’s the first novel in the Sookie Stackhouse series. Another vampire book that takes place in Louisiana and it looks great!

Finally, I heard an interview with the publisher of Charlotte Roche’s Wetlands and knew I had to have it. He equated it somewhat to American Psycho from a female perspective, but he described it as so much more than that. I was never in love with American Psycho, so that alone wouldn’t have made me buy it. What made me buy it is that he said he’s very hard to shock and this book shocked him! And I love to be shocked šŸ˜‰ It’s about an 18 year old girl exploring her sexuality, it’s about feminine heigine, it’s about her identity as a woman…and it is shocking! The book starts off with this line: “As far back as I can remember, I’ve had hemorhoids.” And it only gets more graphic :p This one is DEFINITELY not for the easily offended…I can tell just from the first chapter that this is going to be a very in your face novel…and she likes the “p word” (referring to the female genetalia) quite a bit. We’ll see how I feel about this one when all is said and done. From reviews I’ve read, it seems to be a love it or really really hate it book.

So that’s it for me…what’s everyone else reading right now? Do you have more than 1 book going? Have a great weekend everyone!