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January 25, 2008

1 Down, 51 To Go, "Acme Novelty Library #18" (52 Books, 52 Weeks)

The fifth year of the 52 Books, 52 Weeks project finally kicks off a couple of weeks into the new year. Once again, my favorite independent bookstore in the country, Baltimore's Atomic Books, is sponsoring the project (for the fourth year).

When I picked up Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Library #18, I expected another strong work from the man I consider to be the preeminent American cartoonist working today. At only 56 pages, this book packs in the psychological depth of graphic novels five times its size. Ware examines the common postmodern theme of alienation through the life of an apartment building, focusing on the lonely life of one of its inhabitants. The panels are intricately drawn, and these alone set Ware apart from his contemporaries. Though I had seen several of these strips elsewhere, the oversized format of the book enhances their readability. This is the first chapter of an upcoming graphic novel, one that could possibly challenge Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth as my favorite graphic novel ever.

For one month, enter the coupon code "LHB001" at Atomic Books and receive 15% off this title.

What kept me from starting the series? I finally caught up reading books sent my way for the Book Notes series, and I simply couldn't put down the Library of America's Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters, that collects all Elizabeth Bishop's published poems, most of her prose writing and many letters.

Please feel free to recommend books via comment or e-mail. I started this series in January of 2004 with the hopes of expanding my literary horizons, if you see a genre that is missing from either the Book Notes or the 52 Books, 52 Weeks series, please feel free to recommend a book.

My next book is Jim Shepard's short story collection, Like You'd Understand, Anyway: Stories.

also at Largehearted Boy:

52 Books, 52 Weeks (2008 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)


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