Dave McKean

Wednesday reading — oh, pioneers

What I've been reading

I read Combray, the first part of an adaptation of À la recherche du temps perdu as a bande dessinée, a medium to which it is not particularly suited. I was mostly just curious as to how it would be done at all. Even though it doesn't read particularly smoothly, the art is actually kind of a nice bonus for scene-setting.

I read The Worst Class Trip Ever, Dave Barry's new middle-grade book. Actually, I listened to the audiobook, because that was what the library had available. It was funny, although I found myself enjoying the first two-thirds more than the big Dave Barry-style dénouement, which didn't quite gel for me. Also I was thinking that he did a pretty good job depicting kids these days on their smartphones for a 67-year-old, and then I realized that I myself am too old to be aware of all the things that kids these days do on their smartphones. I mean, I definitely know that they sometimes use them to challenge me to five or more games of Words with Friends at a time, which they play at a frenetic pace until they get bored of them and allow them to lapse.

I read Nemesis Games, the latest Expanse book. This book kind of feels like it's treading water a bit, even though there are some big things that happen, because it mostly serves to fill in backstories for and extend point of view chapters to the three crewmembers of the Rocinante who aren't Holden. Poor Alex gets the shortest shrift here, traveling all the way to Mars to have a brief conversation with his ex-wife about how she doesn't want to talk to him. Naomi's backstory, on the other hand, drives the main plot and is pretty compelling. Amos is somewhere in the middle with his perhaps over-long roadtrip and prison break. The bit at the end where he smuggles an incredibly deadly woman onto the ship in a crate just has to be a Firefly shoutout.

I read Young Pioneers, one of the books that I said just yesterday that I hadn't read. One of the reasons that did move me to read it was that the power went out last night and it was easier to read a book I had handy on my laptop instead of trying to read a paper book by candlelight, which would have been more of an authentic pioneer experience.

Stylistically, I found it very readable, if a bit simplistic for something that wasn't originally published for children. In every other respect, though, I thought it was a total mess. "David" and "Molly" are a couple of cardboard-thin nigh-suicidal lunatics who are passionately devoted to the sunk cost fallacy. It's also incredibly short. I think it might be shorter than any of the Little House books, but I'm not quite sure because they have different typesetting and more illustrations.

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