We've always been on the lookout for a non-traditional narrative to feature in Indiespensable, but, up until now, couldn't find a book that struck precisely the right chord.
Previous contenders lacked the breadth and the universal appeal that we strive to achieve. Plots weren't sufficiently stirring, authors too obscure or too well known, art too cartoony, too generic, or too abstract. We're a picky bunch.
And then the stars aligned. We saw Stitches, published by W. W. Norton & Co.
Like other "important" graphic works [Stitches] seems destined to sit beside...this is a frequently disturbing, pitch-black funny, ultimately cathartic story whose full impact can only be delivered in the comics medium....If there's any fight left in the argument that comics aren't legitimate literature, this is just the thing to enlighten the naysayers.
So says Booklist, and we couldn't agree more.Megan, who up until this point didn't consider herself a graphic novel fan, was considerably moved by both the narrative and the medium. "The memoir transcended the genre. It became something of its own definition," she said.
Dave found it intriguing that author David Small, 64, a Newbery and Caldecott award-winning children's book illustrator (of more than 40 titles), is only now telling his own story. With an inkling that this was worth further investigation, Dave interviewed Small — you'll find a portion of their fascinating exchange included in the package.
Then Jill stumbled across the paperback original from HarperCollins, How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall. Already long-listed for the Booker Prize, the Sunday Telegraph called this gorgeous quartet of artists' voices a "deeply sensual novel...an intelligent page-turner which, perversely, you also want to read slowly to savour."
Jill was impressed. (This is no small feat.) "Thematically, in some ways it's similar to Stitches," she mused. "Let's add it to the box." Done.
And finally, it should come as no surprise that we have a soft spot in our hearts for Merge Records, a scrappy independent outfit celebrating its 20th anniversary. Its "get big, stay small" philosophy has allowed it to emerge as a prosperous role model in a volatile industry. We'd like to think it bears striking similarities to another independent business we know... Enjoy this sneak peek into Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records from our friends over at Algonquin Books.
And there you have it: Indiespensable #13. Unlucky? No way.
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A collective of high muckamucks, the Panjandrums largely spend their time in competitive Bananagram duels and negotiations regarding Pie Friday — not to mention painstakingly designing each installment of Powell's subscription club, Indiespensable, with the help of independent publishers and local merchants. From time to time, they find it entertaining to give you a look at the hows and whys behind the what. But, if you're yearning for more, send questions, suggestions, and random anecdotes to firstname.lastname@example.org. (They especially like stories about pets, babies, and pie fillings.)
Books mentioned in this post