I just finished reading a book that found its way in to my hands in an unusual way. A woman approached me on the train and offered it to me. There was a sticky note on it which read "Donate Please." She told me that, since I was always reading, she figured it made sense to give it to me. That's kind of nice, don't you think?
The book was Breathless In Bombay, a collection of short stories by Murzban F. Shroff. It's a collection of stories set in present-day Bombay. None of the stories cross and none of the characters appear in more than one story, but they're all thematically linked. Each story is concerned with highlighting the intersection of poverty and progress, some more successfully than others.
I suspect that the stories are presented in the order in which they were written. The first one is a predictable trifle about impoverished clothes washers dealing with the fact that their trade is becoming obsolete in the modern world. It's predictable and built on an overly obvious metaphor, but the stories pick up in terms of depth and characterization. The final story, the one which gives the title to the collection, is by far the most mature and subtle in the book. It's a lovely meditation on love and perspective and priorities and it's deftly told.
I'm not wild about the entire collection, but if you're interested in the subject matter, it's a good read that picks up steam as it goes.
Earlier this evening, I re-read the second volume of Grant Morrison's The Invisibles, "Apocalipstick." I've always regarded it as one of the weakest links in one of the greatest comic book stories ever published. Plot wise, it's very much a "middle child," bridging the beginning and endings without providing much in the way of payoff. It's filled primarily with back- and side-stories, so what little narrative their is is fragmented.
The Lord Fanny origin story is spectacular, making Fanny the most fully-realized character in the series. King Mob and Jack Frost are "main" characters in The Invisibles, but Fanny's really the fulcrum and this book lays the foundation for everything that comes after for her.
While Fanny's the star, the most memorable story has to be the introduction of Jim Crow. Guest artist Chris Weston, in what I think was only his second book post-2000 AD, steals the show with this exceptional creepy and uncomfortable story. This story would make a terrific short film or Twilight Zone-esque TV show.
One of the fun things about The Invisibles is that it's not only re-readable, but it can be re-read in almost any order. It's non-linear, but more than that, its infected with time travel, so scrambling the order of the stories not only works, but sometimes, it reveals new wrinkles.
Nice job, Grant.
We're watching a film called Pontypool right now. I'm not sure it's good, but it's really, really interesting. If you've read Warren Ellis' JLA: Classified run, "New Maps Of Hell", the idea will be familiar. I won't go into exactly what that idea is, but it's a good one even though the film doesn't fully deliver on it. I've never heard of Canadian author Tony Burgess, who wrote the screenplay as well as the novel its based on, but he's on the list now.