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Building Storiesby Chris Ware
I've been waiting for this book to come out for at least five years, and this magnificent edition exceeded all my expectations (and they were big ones)! I can't even begin to imagine a book more intricately constructed than Building Stories. I show it to everyone who visits my house, and we all marvel at its amazing splendor!
What a strange yet wonderful box of loveliness! Building stories is odd, sweet, sad, beautiful, and quixotic, yet that barely scratches the surface. Made up of what I can only guess are "chapters" in varied formats, with no true end or beginning, its sprawling size is a bit overwhelming straight out of the box. Yet the melancholy story of the tenants of an old building is fascinating despite (or maybe because of) the fact that it's a cartoon. It is an intimate look at the human condition; the stories of the old woman who owns the building, the constantly fighting couple, and the woman who lost her leg are close observations of human despair. Amazingly accurate in its depiction of interior monologue, each character is so complex, rich, and layered, the soul-crushing burden of their lives is keenly felt. Building Stories will make your heart ache for its characters, and it will make you realize that this tiny slice of life looks mighty familiar.
Synopses & Reviews
Everything you need to read the new graphic novel Building Stories: 14 distinctively discrete Books, Booklets, Magazines, Newspapers, and Pamphlets.
With the increasing electronic incorporeality of existence, sometimes it’s reassuring — perhaps even necessary — to have something to hold on to. Thus within this colorful keepsake box the purchaser will find a fully-apportioned variety of reading material ready to address virtually any imaginable artistic or poetic taste, from the corrosive sarcasm of youth to the sickening earnestness of maturity — while discovering a protagonist wondering if she’ll ever move from the rented close quarters of lonely young adulthood to the mortgaged expanse of love and marriage. Whether you’re feeling alone by yourself or alone with someone else, this book is sure to sympathize with the crushing sense of life wasted, opportunities missed and creative dreams dashed which afflict the middle- and upper-class literary public (and which can return to them in somewhat damaged form during REM sleep).
A pictographic listing of all 14 items (260 pages total) appears on the back, with suggestions made as to appropriate places to set down, forget or completely lose any number of its contents within the walls of an average well-appointed home. As seen in the pages of the New Yorker, the New York Times and McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Building Stories collects a decade’s worth of work, with dozens of “never-before published” pages (i.e., those deemed too obtuse, filthy or just plain incoherent to offer to a respectable periodical).
"Ware provides one of the year's best arguments for the survival of print. In more than 200 pages spread over 14 separate printed works that include broadsheets, booklets, and full-sized books, Ware tells the visually stunning story of a nameless woman as she lives a quiet, frustrated life in Chicago. Ware gives voice not only to his nameless heroine but to the people who pass through and fill her life, peering in on the dysfunctional couple that lives below her, the wistful memories of the woman's ancient landlady, the old and crumbling building she lives in, and even the comedic blunderings of a bee named Branford, bringing together stories filled with grief, doubt, and self-loathing. Ware's paper archipelago can be read in any order, making his heroine's progression from single apartment life to dissatisfied motherhood in Oak Park, all the more personal, as if the reader is leafing through her memories, rather than following her linear story. Ware's artwork consistently overshadows his creation's anxieties, her frets and worries made even smaller and pettier by Ware's intricate and expansive art. But the spectacular, breathtaking visual splendor make this one of the year's standout graphic novels. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Chris Ware's Building Stories is the rarest kind of brilliance; it is simultaneously heartbreaking, hilarious, shockingly intimate and deeply insightful. There isn't a graphic artist alive or dead who has used the form this wonderfully to convey the passage of time, loneliness, longing, frustration or bliss. It is the reader's choice where and how to begin this monumental work — the only regret you will have in starting it is knowing that it will end." J.J. Abrams
"Chris [Ware] really changed the playing field. After him, a lot of [cartoonists] really started to scramble and go holy [expletive], 'I think I have to try harder.'" Seth, author of It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken
"A treasure trove of graphic artworks — they're too complex to be called comics — from Ware, master of angst, alienation, sci-fi and the crowded street....A dazzling document." Kirkus, starred review
"There's no writer alive whose work I love more than Chris Ware. The only problem is it takes him ten years to draw these things and then I read them in a day and have to wait another ten years for the next one." Zadie Smith
"If there's one release this year that people will be asking you about, odds are it'll be this one....There's no way to get ready for Ware beyond clearing one's calendar, so yes: it's time to start calling babysitters." Flavorwire
"Ware has been consistently pushing the boundaries for what the comics format can look like and accomplish as a storytelling medium....More than anything, though, this graphic novel mimics the kaleidoscopic nature of memory itself — fleeting, contradictory, anchored to a few significant moments, and a heavier burden by the day. In terms of pure artistic innovation, Ware is in a stratosphere all his own." Booklist, starred review
"Building Stories is a momentous event in the world of comics — the unusual format of Ware's book is bound to help redefine yet again what a 'graphic novel' can be." New Yorker blog
"Remarkable...all of it is drawn in Ware's meticulous style, inked in his bright, bold colors, and written in his decidedly literary voice. This is a publishing event; I can't believe it's retailing for only 50 bucks." Chicago Reader
After years of sporadic work on other books and projects and following the almost complete loss of his virility, it's here: a new graphic novel by Chris Ware.
Building Stories imagines the inhabitants of a three-story Chicago apartment building: a 30-something woman who has yet to find someone with whom to spend the rest of her life; a couple, possibly married, who wonder if they can bear each other's company another minute; and the building's landlady, an elderly woman who has lived alone for decades. Taking advantage of the absolute latest advances in wood pulp technology, Building Stories is a book with no deliberate beginning nor end, the scope, ambition, artistry and emotional prevarication beyond anything yet seen from this artist or in this medium, probably for good reason.
About the Author
Chris Ware is widely acknowledged as the most gifted and beloved cartoonist of his generation by both his mother and seven-year-old daughter. His Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth won the Guardian First Book Award and was listed as one of the "100 Best Books of the Decade" by the Times (London) in 2009. An irregular contributor to This American Life and the New Yorker (where some of the pages of this book first appeared) his original drawings have been exhibited in the Whitney Biennial, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and in piles behind his work table in Oak Park, Illinois.
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