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Flipping (for The 500 Club)

It’s Thursday, and I’ve got a minute to play along with the 500 Club at The Parking Lot Confessional. If you like to dabble in flash fiction, you should mosey on over and play too.

Here’s my entry for today, using the first prompt. I ran a little over 500 words, but I was having too much fun to stop.

FLIPPING

Today would be like any other day except it wasn’t of course. It was monkeyshines again. And by monkeyshines I mean a bunch of hulking big white guys with sharp pointy sticks wanting to hurl me off the top of a mountain.

Let me go back and explain. I have this annoying habit. It’s called flipping. You ever sit down at the local coffee shop and find yourself next to some patchouli-scented charmer who proceeds to regale you with stories about tripping the light fantastic, crystals, salvia and astral projection? If you do ever find yourself in such a horrific scenario, you should do what I do, which is to say, “Jerry Garcia’s dead, man,” and get yourself a to-go cup.

Harsh. You know what else is harsh? Flipping. Flipping is when you go to sleep and your id or whatever starts spewing up chunks of dreamscape, and your stupid stupid body just decides to invert or whatever, and instead of waking up in your warm comfy bed, you wake up in dreamland instead.

Sometimes it’s not bad at all. Kinda fun, even. I have particularly fond memories of some places- Puddingworld, the McDuck Vault, the land where everyone’s farts smelt like either baking bread, brewing coffee, or freshly cut grass, the utopian underwater kingdom of the psychic cephalopods- some places are pretty good. The best place of course, is the heart of the dreaming, the world where I met Sensei, who taught me how to keep record of my travels through sympathetic magic. I’d rather get back to Sensei’s world than my own. There, I’m but a simple student. But Sensei is teaching me how to control the flipping. Someday, he says, I’ll ride it like a wave. That’s there, though.

Here? Here I’m a goddess. Which is actually not good. Not good at all. Sure, goddess SOUNDS like a good gig, but only if it involves dedicated servants, maybe a fatted calf. In this place, the goddess comes in human form to marry earth and sky together. And the way she does this is by being flung from the top of a mountain. I got elected goddess by virtue of my purple hair (not natural, but it’s like the Matrix here, where you appear as you see yourself, insert “I know Kung Fu” joke here, move on) and brown skin.

And even though Sensei knows where I’ve gone, there’s nothing he can do about it. Only I can save myself, by being preternaturally clever. Or by passing out. If I can reach a dream state, I can get out of here. Only problem is I haven’t slept since I got here two days ago. I think they’re spiking my food with stimulants. I stopped eating the slop they throw through the bars last night, as a precaution. Did I mention I’m in some kind of crappy bamboo cage? Yeah. Anyway, I’m due to be chucked at sundown, aaand here comes the priest (you can tell he’s the priest because he’s got the biggest hat) with … a golden goblet? He’s holding it out to me. Jackpot? I take it through the bars and sling back the whole thing in one go. Tastes like cardamom and wormwood. Jackpot turns from question mark into interrobang.

The priest ululates and more of the Hulking Big White Guys (HBWGS) step forward and left up my cage. Here we go, up the mountain and the Priest’s Special is churning my guts worse than any Irish Car Bomb. The borders of my vision fuzz. It’s hard to breathe up here but the HBWGS must be used to it. Grass gives way to lichen, lichen gives way to bare rock. The sun blasts mercilessly overhead. But it’s sunset. Sunset.

The HBWGS flip open my door, grab me by the elbows, haul me out. The priest is ululating again and it’s making the HBWGS shift and shiver, go gray like the rocks and I dive into the gray, I chase it down, breath regulated, muscles straining, I dive into the gray of drug dream as the rocks disappear beneath me and my hair blows back in the screaming wind.

In Which I Get Harsh And Disrespectful

“Fiction has become culturally irrelevant,” says Lee Seigel over at the New York Observer. I am sure he was weeping into an Hermes handkerchief as he typed. Culturally irrelevant? Really? Pretty sure the Twilight franchise is one of the only things keeping beleaguered Hollywood afloat. Pretty sure J.K. Rowling is one of only 14 women billionaires in the world that made her own fortune rather than inheriting it.

Oh, I forgot. Money is crass.

Except it’s also the yardstick by which our culture measures value.

You’re searching for the next Hemingway, Faulkner, or Fitzgerald? Honey, you are looking in the wrong place. There are so many things a newly written literary novel cannot have to be considered literary, there’s nothing left to talk about but the same old dusty crap. Experimentation is not encouraged, and you know it. You want to find Hemingway? Hemingway wrote boy’s adventure stories. In sparse, amazing prose, yes. Faulker? Faulkner wrote AS I LAY DYING, FOR CHRISSAKE. Whassup, narrating dead woman? Fitzgerald, that’s the best of all. Rich people behaving badly. Novels built on the stuff of tabloids. (You know what, you can keep him. I hate The Great Gatsby and I don’t care who knows it.)

It’s all genre. Genre is the place where writers are mischievous. It is the home of dissent, of experimentation, of Weird. But you literary fiction types are so stubborn in your pigheaded anti-mischief you refuse to acknowledge what would save you. For the love of God, take your honed sentences, your radiant imagery, your soul-shaking themes, and wrap them around a plot. But no. Apparently Narrative NonFiction is the Great White Hope. We’d rather go with nonfiction, than touch that smelly, cheap genre work that earns fistfuls of money and garners adoring fans. No, keep the bloodline pure! Nominate Narrative Nonfiction instead!

Here’s the problem, chief, what made “Iphigenia in Forest Hills” the talk of the town wasn’t that it was nonfiction. It was that it was a thriller about a woman accused of hiring a hit man to kill her husband.

You wondered over the fates of the characters. You wanted to know what happened next.

You’re blinkered, lit fic. You’re blinkered and your attitude alienates readers like me. I spend hundreds of dollars on books a year. I will talk about books to anyone who will seems remotely interested. But I don’t champion you, because you don’t care about me, the reader.

Genre Fiction is the Future, is the Now, and has been the Last Ten Years, At Least. Anyone who says otherwise is being willfully blind.

The Devil’s Advocate: A Response to S.C. Green’s “For The Sake of Being Evil”

Today S.C. Green wrote a post on PLC about humanizing one’s villains. Now, I am in complete agreement with some of the things he says- you should always know why your bad guy is doing what he’s doing. What’s his motivation? Side note- You should know the motivations of ALL your characters, major or minor, POV character or no. This is one of the things that separates the roundies from the flats. Whether that motivation gets onto the page depends on whose story you are telling.

As an example of how to humanize your villians, S.C. suggests, “There might be a tender moment in their past, something that your reader can relate to, something real that goes wrong or maybe they made a poor choice that’s forever changing their future.”

And to that I say, tread lightly. Because the “I had a sad childhood and now I is twisted and bad” thing? Totally. Played. Out.

Sometimes people don’t need a triggering event to be horrible, or to begin to suffer from a range of psychoses. (extra deep dish side note- iTunes shuffled Poe’s Trigger Happy Jack on as I started to write this post and now it’s gone on to NIN’s Closer. The machines and I are ONE! And yes I still live in the 90′s shuddup.) Sociopaths are usually born that way, there’s certain childhood “tells” like torturing animals, disregarding safety of self, and compulsive lying.

I agree with S.C.’s point that villains need a thread of humanity. But I think motivation alone can provide most of that thread. I think the danger of having a cartoon villain arises when he *only* does bad things. If your bad guy kicks a puppy every time he gets on the page, you’re in Saturday morning cartoon town. Now to be fair, S.C. isn’t advising that either, he says “The reader has to believe that these bad things are happening for a (not-so) good reason.” I agree. But I say, easy on the backstory, Jack, and just give me some Motivation.

I mean, who do we love, this guy?

Anakin Wusswalker

Or this guy?

Darth Vader ISCOMINGTOKICKYOURASS

Smoldering Reviews: The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia

I first became aware of this book via a review at io9.com This review was the one that got me to the bookstore, so kudos to Annalee Newitz. The io9 review is longer and more detailed than my own, so do pop over if you want to know more about the book than what I give you.

Ok, first of all- The Alchemy of Stone is a great title, and a novel of automated anarchy & clockwork lust is a great tag line. I know exactly what I’m getting into. And Sedia delivers in masterful prose both a great steampunk fantasy romance, and an insightful slow-mo look at what happens when everything starts falling down.

The book opens from the point of view of a non-human multiplicity, a voice of the city, so to speak. It’s quite a hook in the first pages, but I found myself skimming subsequent entries from this POV in order to get back to the fascinating protagonist, Mattie. Attribute this not to any weakness of prose, but to the utter fascination I felt for Mattie, an automaton and an alchemist. I mean, a female automaton alchemist? Sold. SO, so sold. Mattie both loves and hates her inventor, Loharri. Loharri has emancipated her, allowing to move out of his home and set up her own shop, but will not relinquish the literal key to her heart, and so she remains dependent in part upon him.

The rest of the plot, revolving around the fall of the old ruling order and the rise of the new is well-handled, but I have to admit I read this book for the relationships (okay, and the alchemy), so this review will focus on that. Although she’s made of metal, porcelain and whale-bone, Mattie’s emotions are complex, and confused, and all-too-real. Her tormenting creator Loharri is a terrible person who does terrible things, and yet the whole time I wanted to have his imaginary fiction babies. I understood perfectly well why Mattie battled and hated him. The pathos of their power struggle kept me glued to the pages. For example, everyone in the book is shocked when they learn Loharri designed Mattie to be able to feel pain, (so terribly cruel of him, fetch the smelling salts) but no one acknowledges that being able to feel pain is necessary to be human. Poor horrible Loharri. So misunderstood. And yet, so completely horrible.

In contrast to the tangled web between Loharri and Mattie, the introduction of potential suitor Sebastian held little interest for me. Also more interesting than to me than Sebastian- Mattie’s sisters-in-arms, plotting courtesan and sometime employer Iolanda, and shunned fellow alchemist Niobe. Thanks to these secondary characters, TAOS easily passes the Bechdel test. Originally applied to movies, the Bechdel test requires the following criterion:

That the story
1. includes at least two women,
2. who have at least one conversation alone
3. about something other than a man or men.

Obviously most books, films, and tv shows fail this. Kind of stunning, but there you go. But in TAOS Mattie and Niobe have some seriously interesting conversations about alchemy, and about being outsiders. As a feminist (BOO! Now get off my lawn of patchouli-scented leg hairs) I noticed, and I appreciated it.

I won’t say anything about the ending except that I loved it. The Alchemy of Stone is a really solid book, a beautiful book, one that’s going to stay on my shelf. A different reader than myself will probably get different things out of it- I myself will probably get different things out of it on rereads. And I look forward to that.

Smoldering Reviews: The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas

A kind friend clued me in to the fact that my commenting was broken. Should be fixed now. I’m kind of relieved, as it explains why my commenting sections have always been a desert wasteland. Durr internetting is hards! Ok, on with the show.

I just finished The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas. Blurbed on the back cover by SFFWorld as a “mix of Pern and Westeros,” I found it more to be Westeros-lite. At 368 pages it’s just not the hearty doorstop I’ve come to expect from that particular sub-genre (Swords and Scheming?), but that’s hardly the author’s fault. And if I’m complaining that it wasn’t long enough, that’s not really a complaint, is it? No, it’s not. I didn’t get much Pern out of it at all, but I’m a recovered Pernaholic, and simply having dragons is not enough to make something Pernese, my dear chums. The dragons were pretty cool, and original enough for me, but I thought the trappings that surrounded them were much cooler, such as the Scales, men who willingly exposed themselves to the disfiguring and eventually fatal Hatching Sickness, just so they could tend to and train the dragons they would never be allowed to ride.

Deas has a deft hand with worldbuilding and history. I absolutely loved all the strange and sinister little touches, like the Scales, that he put into his world. I could have gobbled up twice what he put in without blinking. And honestly, history in fantasy novels usually puts me to sleep, but in TAP I got just enough to keep me curious.

The writing was crisp and readable, which may sound like faint praise but is pretty big coming from me. I never got pulled out of the story by a clunky sentence or ugly passage. The chapters are short and often end on cliffhangers, setting a galloping pace. My only real disappointment with TAP was about the behavior of one of the characters, who for me was the gun in Act One that never goes off in Act Three.* I could have used more character development overall, but this one, I felt, was a doozy.

That issue aside, which is something that could easily change to my satisfaction in the following books, I found TAP to be a fun ride, with plenty of good old-fashioned intrigue and backstabbing. I will be picking up the sequel when it comes out.

* More on the character who gave me a sad under this cut with HUGE ENORMOUS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS BEWARE

Late

This weeks 500 Club post is up at PLC, prompts by yours truly. Here’s the rest of my entry below.

“So, what happens if they don’t get you to the church on time?”

I squinted up at the cleavage in my face. A reporter bent over me, her face schooled into an expression of concern. We were all sitting on what was left of the curb, waiting for the firefighters to clear all the twisted metal and broken glass away. You’d think they’d be faster at it by now, God knows they’ve had enough practice.

“What do you mean what happens?” It came out foamier than I meant. Damn demons. They always go to work on your saliva glands first thing. Saliva, vomit, excrement, sweat. They love it.

She looked at me with big stupid eyes and nodded.

I sighed.

“Exorcisms are a time-sensitive deal. Now get that mike out of my face.” I turned my head, which was about all the rejection I could muster up. The City’s new straight jackets were top of the line. Nice, breathable fabric. Stain resistant, too. Brother Michael patted my shoulder, his muscles rippling under his paramedics uniform. Always two sizes too small, that was Brother Michael. The reporter was undeterred.

“Mr. Shriver, are you saying the possession will become irreversible?”

“I will gut you, mortal woman. I will feast upon your liver! I will gnaw your eyeballs out of their sockets, and you will scream and scream.”

I clamped my mouth up and gave her a that’s-life-whaddya-gonna-do-’bout-it look. That wasn’t me. Well, that came out of my mouth, but it was clearly Beelze-whoever putting his two cents in. They hadn’t revealed their name to me. So they were either a weak little pissant of a demon, or so powerful they thought it unnecessary.

“One more question, Mr. Shriver? Assuming the wreck on the I-80 is cleared and you do get to the church to be exorcised on time, will you return to work for the City, trawling in the sewers?”

“Of course,” I growled. “Got bills to pay, don’t I? You show me a private sector who’s willing to hire a post-possessed, and I’ll show you a snuff club, or a bunch of scrotty scientists. Or the ministry. No honest work for a multiple post like me.”

“I see. Thank you for your time.” She turned back to the camera and began her wrap up.

Mike elbowed me in the ribs. “What was that dig about ministry work?”

“Are you kidding me? A hundred years ago you’d have been a bouncer. Can you imagine me trying to strap somebody down? I’ve got the muscle power of a bulimic rabbit.”

LepreCon 36: Writing, Rayguns, GRRM, and Charles Vess

LepreCon is a really small, local con. I’ve never been this until this year, but the Writer GOH was George R. R. Martin, and the artist GOH was Charles Vess, so really, how could I not go? I missed all of Friday’s programming, which sucked because it was the heartiest schedule. Saturday’s scheduling was rather thin, but it was actual free time available to me, unlike Friday.

I came in on Saturday for a panel on pacing, thinking I wouldn’t have to stand in much of a line to register. This was true, but the process took longer than I thought it would. I popped into the panel, held by Melinda Snodgrass, Sam Sykes, and G. David Nordley, about halfway through and sat in the back, where there was a surprising amount of noise from the hall outside. So I didn’t get to hear a lot, but I did find some of the comments food for thought.

Melinda suggested that the infodump is not the monster we fear, that sometimes it is best to say things in declarative statements, particularly what the stakes of the story are.

Sam tempered that statement a little, pointing out that you may have good reasons to be vague about certain things, if you’re trying to build up to a reveal later.

I’m glad he did say that, because it’s a great technique, but I think also that Melinda has a very valid point. We get so used to showing without telling, that we leave out what can’t be shown but is still necessary to fully understand the plot. Taking class with Jim has helped me realize that my horror of telling has caused me to occasionally leave important plot points too vague to be understood by the reader. I understand all the plot points, but the story is coming out of my own head, so of course I would- doesn’t mean I’ve made things understandable to everyone who is not myself.

After the pacing panel, I met up with my writing crew and perused the Dealer’s Room and the Art Show. The Art Show was really fabulous. I ended up buying two prints, a combat monocle (because how could I not, really) and bidding on a toy gun retooled into a retro-style ray gun. I am the only female in my house, not counting the cat. Mama needs a ray gun.

Fortunately, I won the auction for the gun on Sunday, but unfortunately I couldn’t get back in time to pick it up. I thought it was a lost cause, but The LepreCon folks are being really great about working with me to get it into my hands. When it does I’ll have to post some pics of the whole haul.

I also bought some “Serenity props, two bar bottles. Like Stephen I am a tad dubious of their veracity, but they were quite cheap and I figured they’d be a pain to pack on a plane, so I’d really be helping the dealer out by taking them off his hands. I do have a small bottle collection going and I thought they would look nice with the rest. I’m out of room on my bottle shelf though, so I’ll have to think of a new place to put them all, out the reach of small hands. They’re from Prop Store of London. I never brought a prop before, but at least they have a website, so? Anyway, I don’t care if it was just a bunch of Browncoats slapping labels on old bottles and marking them up. They look cool and I like them.

Lastly, I bought a copy of Warriors from Poisoned Pen, signed by both Diana Gabaldon and George R. R. Martin.

At this point I was at maximum carry capacity, so I walked sadly past the Dr. Grordobort display (I reeeeeaaaallly want a copy of Dr. Grordbort Presents VICTORY, Scientific Adventure Violence for Young Men and Literate Women (Best. Title. Ever.)) and out to my car to offload. This decision, while practical, ensured that I would forget* to get my print when we went to Charles Vess’s signing and forget to get my book when I went to George R. R. Martin’s panel.

After my pockets were mercilessly ransacked by the Dealer’s Room, I grabbed a beer and a bite at the sports bar next to the hotel (that was my husband’s genius suggestion to me as I left the house earlier). My best friend showed up as I was wrapping up, and we popped in to get her Charles Vess’s autograph. He was quite a gracious guy.

Next was George R. R. Martin’s panel. He gave a general history of himself, talked about his time in television doing Beauty and the Beast, and how the multi-authoral Wild Cards Series came into being, and a bit about the current series. He also talked about his recent posts on Fan Fiction and his own writing process. I found his comments on Fan Fiction thought-provoking, and I’ll post more on that later.

Hearing one of my favorite writers talk about his process was deeply validating for me, because I found it mirrored my own. I can’t tell you how amazing, surprising, and wonderful that felt. I found myself nodding over and over again. We both:

1. Have sizzling hot streaks, and then nothing

2. Write several chapters of one character’s story for a while, then switch off to someone else when the mood takes us

3. Edit obsessively

4. Are driven mad by maintaining chronology

I am in no way saying that I am anywhere near as talented as this man, and I know a lot of other writers work this way too. But hearing that G.R.R.M., who has my dream career and writes my favorite stories, has the same work mannerisms I do, was deeply uplifting.

Amy K. Nichols has a bunch of great quotes from this panel (and from her chat with James A. Owen) on her blog But she doesn’t have my favorite GRRM quote, which was on writing in different genres and styles and went something like:

I’ll write whatever the hell I want to write- just as long as it’s good story, that’s all I care about.

Hell to the yes, GRRM. Hell to the yes.

After the panel I watched Stephen get his book signed while ruminating about my lack of foresight. We sat through for the next panel, on publishing, but just as it was getting going I suffered an acute allergy attack. My allergies are all about the sinuses, and I had forgotten to put any tissues into my bag. We were sitting up front and so  I fled to the bathroom. It was that or wipe my nose on my hands in front of Michael Stackpole, Rick Novy, Rick Cook and Will Shetterly. No thanks.

After I got that under control I decided not to chance being set off again and instead wandered over to the patio and worked on the manuscript for a while, listening to my Nano and enjoying the deepening of the desert evening.

And that was my LepreCon 36 Experience: ray guns, missed opportunities, and personal validation. The last part is the best part.

*The Guinness might have had something to do with that.

Playing along with the 500 Club

I am playing this week’s 500 Club over at The Parking Lot Confessional. Here’s my entry. You can play too, just read today’s blog entry and respond to the prompt.

First Shy broke a window. Then I broke a window. He used his fist, wrapped in his t-shirt. I threw a rock. Crows flew, scolding, at the noise. The house yawned in confusion at us, like it didn’t know why we were doing it.

But it did.

We were trying to break it down, to force its unique vibration out into the open, where we could trap it. Everything in Omega had its own energy signature, its own power. That’s why it was abandoned. A rock from Omega was good. A mailbox was better. A building was best. If your gang had a building, they had a home, a fortress, and it would be with you always, as long as you didn’t lose the crystal you caught it in.

We needed a fortress. More than that, we needed a home.

The birds settled. The sun was getting low in the sky. We looked at each other. All the lower story of the house was smashed in now. But nothing had come out to challenge us.

“It’s not working,” I said, trying to sound casual about it.

“That’s because we haven’t done enough.” Shy gestured to the upper floor. “That’s where the heart is. Up whhere people dreamed.” He grinned. “And fucked.”

I scuffed my foot in the grime on the patio, avoiding his sharp eyes, his suntanned shoulders, his golden hair. “Bic did say we have to get blood on the glass.”

Shy snorted. “Bic don’t know.” He reached over and twisted the door knob. It gave way.

“Woah,” I said, then clipped my mouth shut. Stupid.

“Maybe someone still lives here.”

“I thought no one lived in Omega any more. How else would the v-catchers work?”

Well ours isn’t working,” said Shy, nodding at the geode chained around my neck. Yeah, I looked like an imbecile wearing it, but if I was going to let Shy drag me into Omega on a stupid dare, I was going to be protected as possible.

“We better check it out,” said Shy.

I made a face. “I dunno. It’s getting late. Maybe we should just hike out of here.”

Shy glanced at the sun. Then he gave me a surmising look, and I felt my face burn. Skinny little pump-sucker, I could hear him thinking it. Wussy little bookworm. Lazy little homo.  My asthma inhaler was heavy in my pocket. Sweat trickled down my hairline.

“I don’t know, Fel. I think we wasted too much time wanking around.”

“You want to stay the night in here, instead?”

“It’s just- Omega after dark. Wandering in the strees, without a vibe to defend us?” He wrinkled his nose, put on his serious look. “It’s not safe.”

I felt the tension run out of my shoulders. That was why I ran with Bic’s gang, with Shy, even though all they did was run their mouths and get in trouble. Because it was Fel, not Felix. It was Fel, not fag.

The door sagged open, inviting us into shadows and dust.

“Okay,” I said, my mouth feeling all cottony and weird.

****

I may continue this story as I found myself growing really fond of Fel as I was writing it. Thanks 500 Club!

Goodbye Alexander McQueen

McQueen German Vogue, model Tanya Dziahileva, photographer Paola Kudacki

McQueen in German Vogue, model Tanya Dziahileva, photographer Paola Kudacki

I’m no fashionista. I don’t have the body or the patience for it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know genius when I see it.

Alexander McQueen was one of my kind, and by kind I don’t mean to elevate myself to him, God no, but I do mean one of my weird breed, someone who displayed his imagination in public. Displayed it, splayed it, sprayed it. A fabulist who told his tales by transforming cloth into transformation itself.

Like the shoes. From the Origin of the Species show?

McQueen Spring 2010

McQueen Spring 2010

Yes those shoes. The Armadillo shoes.

alexander-mcqueen-spring-summer-2010-12-inch-heels

When I first saw them, part of me was appalled at the thought of a woman trying to walk in them, even a little repulsed. That is supposed to be a woman’s foot, I thought. But then I became enchanted by the strangeness. Because those are not feet, those are not shoes. They are a new line. A new way of thinking. And I fell in love with them for themselves.

A few more things I love for themselves:

Vogue Dec 08

Vogue Dec 08

September 06 Vogue Nippon

September 06 Vogue Nippon

McQueen 08 ad campaign

McQueen Fall 09

mcqueen fall 2006

And so with a heavy heart I say, another great slips into the night.

Vogue UK (Feb 2007)

A more comprehensive examination on McQueen’s work can be found here, a lovely photohistory of his catwalk collections is here, and here are videos of many of them. A rare video interview with the designer himself is here.

The Alchemy

What does it mean when you find yourself conjugating the grammar of shapes? It seems that the formally inscrutable scrawls of physical reality have made themselves legible to me.

I come to realize that writing is like physical exercise. What counts is how much you can do after you think you are done.

-Kabuki

The last 3 weeks in brief: visited family, wee one got head cold, got head cold from wee one, unexpected house guest. But among all the turmoil I managed to buy myself a pretty pretty. It was one of those things where really, price is irrelevant. I didn’t look. Didn’t care. Too breathtaking not to own.

Kabuki, The Alchemy Hardcover

How to explain Kabuki? On the surface, a comic about a former secret operative in a future Japan who seeks vengeance for her murdered mother, the reclamation of her past, and the freedom to forge her own identity. The story, now spanning seven volumes, is told cyclically through groundbreaking art techniques, in particular the masterful use of collage. This most current collected volume, The Alchemy, is about the power of narrative. In my mind the heart of The Alchemy is a conversation between David Mack, who uses the mask of Kabuki as the writer, and you, the Dear Reader. You, the Fellow Artist. Masks are a running theme in Kabuki. But maybe I’m making it too complex. Perhaps I should let a few of the images speak for themselves.

As Kabuki says on the fourth page,

All you need to know is that there is a scar on my face, I’m starting a new life, and I have a friend who is helping me.

David Mack’s official site