A real quick grab-and-go from the library on Sunday. It was nearing nap time and someone was getting cranky…
More comics for me. And just a few new books for the kids.
Ethel and Ernest – Raymond Briggs
Poignant, funny, and utterly original, Ethel & Ernest is Raymond Briggs’s loving depiction of his parents’ lives from their first chance encounter in the 1920s until their deaths in the 1970s.Ethel and Ernest are solid members of the working class, part of the generation (Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation”) that lived through the tumultuous era of the twentieth century. They meet during the Depression — she working as a chambermaid, he as a milkman — and we follow them as they encounter, and cope with, World War II, the advent of radio and t.v., telephones and cars, the atomic bomb, the moon landing. Briggs’s portrayal of his parents as they succeed, or fail, in coming to terms with their rapidly shifting world is irresistably engaging — full of sympathy and affection, yet clear-eyed and unsentimental.
The book’s strip-cartoon format is deceptively simple; it possesses a wealth of detail and an emotional depth that are remarkable in such a short volume. Briggs’s marvelous illustrations and succinct, true-to-life dialogue create a real sense of time and place, of what it was like to experience such enormous changes. Almost as much a social history as it is a personal account, Ethel & Ernest is a moving tribute to ordinary people living in an extraordinary time.
Showa: A History of Japan, 1926-1939 (Showa: A History of Japan #1) – Shigeru Mizuki
“Showa 1926”-“1939: A History of Japan” is the first volume of Shigeru Mizuki’s meticulously researched historical portrait of twentieth-century Japan. This volume deals with the period leading up to World War II, a time of high unemployment and other economic hardships caused by the Great Depression. Mizuki’s photo-realist style effortlessly brings to life the Japan of the 1920s and 1930s, depicting bustling city streets and abandoned graveyards with equal ease. When the Showa era began, Mizuki himself was just a few years old, so his earliest memories coincide with the earliest events of the time. With his trusty narrator Rat Man, Mizuki brings history into the realm of the personal, making it palatable, and indeed compelling, for young audiences as well as more mature readers. As he describes the militarization that leads up to World War II, Mizuki’s stance toward war is thoughtful and often downright critical–his portrayal of the Nanjing Massacre clearly paints the incident (a disputed topic within Japan) as an atrocity. Mizuki’s “Showa 1926”-“1939” is a beautifully told history that tracks how technological developments and the country’s shifting economic stability had a role in shaping Japan’s foreign policy in the early twentieth century.
Showa 1939-1944: A History of Japan (Showa: A History of Japan #2) – Shigeru Mizuki, Zack Davisson (Translation)
Showa 1939–1944: A History of Japan continues the award-winning author Shigeru Mizuki’s autobiographical and historical account of Showa-era Japan. This volume covers the final moments of the lead-up to World War II and the first few years of the Pacific War, and is a chilling reminder of the harshness of life in Japan during this highly militarized epoch.
Mizuki writes affectingly about the impact on the Japanese populace of world-changing moments, including the devastating Second Sino-Japanese War, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the first half of the Pacific War. On a personal level, these years mark a dramatic transformation in Mizuki’s life, too. His idyllic childhood in the countryside comes to a definitive end when he’s drafted into the army and shipped off to the tiny island of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. His life becomes a constant struggle for survival, not only against the constant Allied attacks but against the harsh discipline of the Japanese army officers. During his time in Rabaul, Mizuki comes to understand the misery and beauty of the island itself, a place that will permanently mark him and haunt him for the rest of his life.
Redeployment – Phil Klay
My hold came in! Hooray!
In Redeployment, a soldier who has had to shoot dogs because they were eating human corpses must learn what it is like to return to domestic life in suburbia, surrounded by people “who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died.” In “After Action Report”, a Lance Corporal seeks expiation for a killing he didn’t commit, in order that his best friend will be unburdened. A Mortuary Affairs Marine tells about his experiences collecting remains — of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers both. A chaplain sees his understanding of Christianity, and his ability to provide solace through religion, tested by the actions of a ferocious Colonel. And in the darkly comic “Money as a Weapons System”, a young Foreign Service Officer is given the absurd task of helping Iraqis improve their lives by teaching them to play baseball. These stories reveal the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier’s daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier’s homecoming.
Redeployment is poised to become a classic in the tradition of war writing. Across nations and continents, Klay sets in devastating relief the two worlds a soldier inhabits: one of extremes and one of loss. Written with a hard-eyed realism and stunning emotional depth, this work marks Phil Klay as one of the most talented new voices of his generation.