Author Archive for Frances Owens

Patience has Virtues

by Frances Owens on April 22nd, 2016
Patience has Virtues Cover Image

I have enjoyed the graphic novels of Daniel Clowes for 10+ years, which isn’t saying much as he was first published in 1989, but for a creator to keep making things I liked as teenager and still enjoy as an adult is quite a feat.  My first introduction to his work came after seeing the 2001 movie Ghost World which he wrote along with  director Terry Zwigoff (who spoke recently at Film Scene as part of the Mission Creek Festival).  The movie, which is fantastic BTW, is based on the graphic novel of the same name and has all of the quirkiness and themes common to Clowes’ oeuvre.

Patience, Clowes’ latest is no different.  Blending storytelling whimsy, colorful artwork, and digging into human thought and emotion this graphic novel is a treat for fans.  It starts off like most other of Clowes’ work in that it just seems like a story of one person’s internal conflicts, but then plot twists!  And genre blending!  What starts off as a seemingly narcissistic not particularly compelling story turns into a time traveling tale of revenge!

However it is not your average time traveling adventure, after all it is still written by Daniel Clowes.  He does a great job with addressing typical time travel problems, think Marty McFly’s disappearing siblings in Back to the Future, but also sticking with tried and true themes of loneliness and the very personal nature of memory.  While I prefer Clowes’ earlier works that are more character studies of outsiders, his recent venture into stronger storytelling is a welcome maturation in my opinion.

Anywho, if you like Daniel Clowes, you’ll like Patience.  If you’re not familiar, or you’ve never tried his stuff, pick it up!

A Burning Tome for the Cold Days Ahead

by Frances Owens on December 2nd, 2015
A Burning Tome for the Cold Days Ahead Cover Image

As the temperature drops and you’ve just read a book that weighs practically 10 pounds and has “Fire” in the title it is really hard not to make some sort of pun.  All joking aside though, I’m pretty proud of myself for finishing Garth Risk Hallberg’s 900 page debut novel City on Fire.  It is also important to note that I am by no means a fast reader or have an abundance of free time, this book is just that good.

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I sort of cheated.  I listened to the audiobook via Overdrive in conjunction with reading the book.  I work more than 40 hours a week sometimes, I’m in Graduate School, and I still value my social life, so reading has a tendency to move toward the back of my priority list.  However I came up with a sort of clever way of making sure that I still get my literature on while keeping all my other plates spinning.  I’ll listen to the audiobook on my phone when I can and switch over to the book-book when I’ve got the time to curl up.  Whether its while I walk to work, cooking up some delicious foods, or drawing I’m always amazed the amount of time I can fill with audiobook listening time.  At the end of the day though my love for the printed word can not be squashed even in the name of convenience.

Enough on my time saving tips though.  If you do decide to take on this beast of a book, I urge you to at least look at the book.  Hallberg does some interesting and unique things with the text of the “Interlude” chapters that you’ll rather miss out on if you just listen to the audiobook.  One of these is in the form of a zine, while another yet is an email.  While very few people will be willing to sink their teeth into 900 pages, there really is no time like late fall and early winter.  Additionally the book is written in the form of point of view chapters, so instead of reading one 900 page long book, it is more like reading nine one hundred page long book.  The first person point of view(s), the visuals crafted with words, and the setting of New York City reminded me a lot of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which I also really enjoyed.  Aside from the astounding achievement of weaving together so many different characters’ stories, this book also has a little bit of many genres.

Give it a try at least, even if Maureen Corrigan didn’t like the ending.

a Title for Adult and Teenage Girls

by Frances Owens on October 19th, 2015
a Title for Adult and Teenage Girls Cover Image

I don’t have very much time for reading what with balancing work, school, and the rest of life, so lately I have turned to graphic novels to stimulate my love of the printed word.  This has led to me finally reading Saga by Brian Vaughn, reacquainting myself with childhood (and local) favorite Bloom County, and of course the Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner which is the subject of this particular blog post.

I will grant that I am a little tardy to the party on this book as it originally came out back in 2002, but it was recently adapted into a film directed by Marielle Heller starring Bel Powley in the titular role, but also Kristin Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard.  Besides being excited for the movie because it was playing at Iowa City’s own FilmScene, the director of the movie AND the author of the book were interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air.  Being the library worker such that I am I figured I must read the book first.

I was quite glad that I did as I found it to be one of the most honest portrayals of life as a teenage girl just as the title suggests.  It was painfully honest even.  Warning to those that maybe more sensitive than others: this book is pretty scandalous on every front.  Language, sex, drugs are all present along with a healthy dose of what is often termed “age inappropriate content”.  Another of Gloeckner’s graphic novels, A Child’s Life and Other Stories, was banned from the public library in Stockton, CA in fact.  However in belated celebration of banned books week I recommend checking out the Diary of a Teenage Girl.  It is truly an unforgettable read!

As to the visual content, this book really is more of a novel than a graphic novel, but what art there is reminds the reader of one of Gloeckner’s big influences, R. Crumb.