Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Review: Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Image from ign.com

After a phenomenon like Scott Pilgrim, anything Bryan Lee O’Malley did next would naturally invite comparison. Seconds certainly has some things in common with Pilgrim, particularly by way of personalities, and even in terms of conventions which replace conventional exposition with a pithy caption. Our protagonist, Katie, is seemingly the polar opposite of young Mr. Pilgrim, though: a skilled overachiever, career-focused to the point of self denial, and about to open the restaurant of her dreams after years of work running Seconds, her first popular and well-regarded eatery. What she does have in common with the previous spawn of O’Malley’s pen is an unusual living arrangement — she lives in an apartment upstairs at Seconds — and an uncanny ability to adapt in all the worst ways to bizarre situations.

The night a quiet, oddball new waitress has her forearms badly burned by hot grease, Katie discovers a box in her dresser with a mushroom, a notepad, and a set of instructions:
  • Write your mistake
  • Ingest one mushroom
  • Go to sleep
  • Wake anew
She does so, and when she wakes up, the young lady’s accident never happened. Soon afterward, she stumbles on a vast supply of mushrooms, and there her troubles truly begin.

O'Malley's characters are highly stylized, in a much-hipper-than-reality sort of way, but still able to convey emotion well. The story mechanic breaks the narrative at critical junctures, leaving a great deal of whitespace on the page as the grid of panels also breaks as each new reality replaces the old. Combined with a change in palette in which everything reddens, the reader is primed to see what comes next, especially as the complications mount and the story’s position on the recursively iterating tree of possibility drifts further and further from any familiar reality.

When traditional superstition steps into the everyday, Neil Gaiman’s oeuvre stands as a high-water mark. O’Malley invokes shades of Gaiman as Katie is sternly warned and yet sallies on into the dangerous unknown, but for better or worse, he does not drop upon his protagonist the full weight of her transgressions, allowing for a happy ending for just about everyone. Seconds is a tightly-woven story, compact in concept, straying only rarely, which makes for a highly satisfying tale.

RET3, Guest Blogger





Monday, June 15, 2015

Dragon Library Summer Hours Prevent Students from Melting All Over Sidewalk in Puddles of Soggy Ennui



Will it be hot? If decades of Texanhood are any indication: Yes! Will it be rainy? Also, because El Niño: Apparently Yes!! While this summer break is shaping up to be an excellent one if you love free outdoor saunas, when being scorched, soaked, or both simultaneously gets to be a drag, having a good book to dive into is an excellent reason to lounge about somewhere climate controlled.

Your Dragon Library is here with the hook up: words (and sometimes pictures!) in handy volumes, good for enjoying in the sun at a pool or beach, or while shunning the burning sky-orb at a cafe, or on a nice, cool sofa. They can be read for entertainment or edification, displayed strategically to start conversation or advertise an interest where social media profiles and witty t-shirts won’t do, or used to partially conceal one’s face while scoping out the scene.

“But it’s summer!” hypothetical you says, hypothetically, adding, “And our Beloved Dragon Library is closed until next school year, duh!” Not so! From 10:00 AM until Noon, June 17, July 8, 15, 29, and August 5, we will be open, staffed, and pleased as punch to check out up to 5 items. Don’t worry about taking another whole partial morning out of your busy summertide to return the items, though: they’ll only come due next school year!


- RET3, Guest Blogger



ragon Library Summer Hours Prevent Students from Melting All Over Sidewalk in Puddles of Soggy Ennui


Will it be hot? If decades of Texanhood are any indication: Yes! Will it be rainy? Also, because El Niño: Apparently Yes!! While this summer break is shaping up to be an excellent one if you love free outdoor saunas, when being scorched, soaked, or both simultaneously gets to be a drag, having a good book to dive into is an excellent reason to lounge about somewhere climate controlled.

Your Dragon Library is here with the hook up: words (and sometimes pictures!) in handy volumes, good for enjoying in the sun at a pool or beach, or while shunning the burning sky-orb at a cafe, or on a nice, cool sofa. They can be read for entertainment or edification, displayed strategically to start conversation or advertise an interest where social media profiles and witty t-shirts won’t do, or used to partially conceal one’s face while scoping out the scene.

“But it’s summer!” hypothetical you says, hypothetically, adding, “And our Beloved Dragon Library is closed until next school year, duh!” Not so! From 10:00 AM until Noon, June 17, July 8, 15, 29, and August 5, we will be open, staffed, and pleased as punch to check out up to 5 items. Don’t worry about taking another whole partial morning out of your busy summertide to return the items, though: they’ll only come due next school year!


- RET3, Guest Blogger