This Week, I Read… (#51)

139-the-white-boy-shuffle

#139 – The White Boy Shuffle, by Paul Beatty

  • Read: 12/6/16 – 12/10/16
  • Provenance: Owned (paperback)
  • Challenge: #readthemargin
  • Rating: 3/5 stars

This started weird, but I was into it. The narrative voice was interesting, and Gunnar as a character seemed interesting, too.

But the farther I got into the story, the more that began to wear on me. Events went from weird to bizarre to thoroughly outrageous, so somewhere in the middle of the book I realized I needed to be treating Gunnar like an unreliable narrator. The hyperbolic nature of his style escalated until I couldn’t take him seriously.

Sadly, that escalation left me feeling unimpressed overall. I saw shining glimpses of humor and social commentary that were both surprisingly sharp, but they were lost among a sea of grandiosity that Gunnar heaped on himself. He wasn’t real enough to be believable, which is a shame, because I probably would have loved a different version of the story where he was.

140-persepolis-vol-1

#140 – Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, by Marjane Satrapi

  • Read: 12/10/16 – 12/11/16
  • Provenance: Owned (paperback)
  • Challenge: #readthemargin
  • Rating: 5/5 stars

This was stunning, in both the best and worst ways. Telling the story of a war through childhood, or childhood through war–both happen here.

The incredibly bold, simple art style suited the story, laying out in black and white both the beautiful and horrible things about the time and her experiences in it.

I’m not overly familiar with the political history of the Middle East in any given time period, but Satrapi includes enough basic background when it’s relevant to put each of her chapter-anecdotes into context.

I need to get my hands on the second volume–too bad my used-book shopping turned up this instead of the complete edition!

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