Book Review: Daytripper

A secene from the novel. (Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá)

I spent this last weekend in Athens, GA. In between drinking and setting off fireworks in a pool (fun and awesome!), I made my way down to Bizarro Wuxtry, the comics shop/general haven of weirdness that lives above regular Wuxtry, the music store where REM got its start. (I can’t hear well, and I don’t own a record player, so I prefer the bookstore.) I bought American Born Chinese but had to return it because a page was torn. Not wanting to disappoint the comic store clerk, I picked up Daytripper.

The graphic novel, written by two twin brothers, is set in São Paulo, Brazil. It tracks the life of a man named Brás de Olivia Domingos, who wants to be a novelist but writes obituaries for a living. Each chapter of the book follows him through an important life event, tracking what his obituary would read like if he died after it. The events span most of his life, and are united thematically rather than chronologically. Some of the events are real and some are imaginary; the distinction isn’t clear.

By the end of the book you have a pretty complete picture of his life, including Brás’ long-term and complicated relationships with his best friend Jorge, various women, and his father, a famous novelist in whose shadow he lives. Though not the most compelling narrative in the world (it’s a dreamy sort of book), the stories are interesting and allow you to see a bunch of different snapshots of Brazil.

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What I Found Today (2/23/11)

Laughing Historically: How America was Founded on Drinking : A podcast covering my favorite genres–funny dudes, talking about drunk history, on a couch. Also, holy crap the founding fathers drank a hefty amount. Good to know that everyone who wrote the Constitution was probably hungover when they started it. Ah, history.

Why We All Need Planned Parenthood: My apologies for the new Gawker layout. But, this post–on Jezebel, from a woman who has been using Planned Parent for her main health care provider because she’s poor–is well worth a read in light of the recent cuts to the service.

Baen Free Library: Baen is a fantasy publisher that I read buckets and buckets of as a child. They published Mercedes Lackey’s books, and she was fabulous for both writing about gryphons (I was eight) and being from my stomping grounds of Tulsa, OK. The Free Library provides eBooks for tons of the authors Baen carries, with the authors’ consent and through the publisher. Very cool!

Homemade Flour Tortillas: In honor of my Spring Break trip to Texas (skulking around SXSWi with my internet coworks–here’s hoping I don’t wind up in a dumpster!), a recipe for homemade flour tortillas from the Homesick Texan. I want good tortillas so badly, you guys. Mmmm. (Dorm food Wednesday!) The article came via the fabulous folks at CRAFT, which publishes links to interesting crafts, delicious-looking food, and strange cocktails. Huzzah, the good life!

What I Found Today (2/11/11)

DIY Twix Bars: There is nothing about these that I do not want. Just go look at the candy pictures. GO LOOK. I cannot wait until I have my own kitchen.

4-Hour Dentist: Found via kungfugrippe. For those who don’t know, this is a parody of the 4-Hour Workweek, which is a book that I am supposed to like as a life hacky person but do not in part because the author creeps me out (his second book has a section on 15-minute orgasms, which just makes me sad). 4-Hour Workweek talks about how Ferriss moved to spending much less time on his work by outsourcing things to India and being good at marketing. I’m “eh” on the book but all for parodies.

The Antichoice Suffering Agenda: Posted up on Yes Means Yes, my favorite blog about consent issues and the law (yes I read more than one shush), this is a great outline of what is wrong with the Protect Life Act as it currently stands. Basically, not only are individual practitioners now allowed to refuse to perform abortion services and then refer the patient to another doctor in the hospital, but entire hospitals are allowed to refuse. This is the case even for ectopic pregnancies, in which the best case scenario is that the fetus is aborted–the choice is between that and death of the woman and the fetus. American health care policy: it matters!

How Did Dinosaurs Do It?: Apparently scientists aren’t entirely sure, and it’s a valid field of inquiry (12-year-old me is pleased). Totally worth a read to see the various convoluted ways in which dinos may have gotten it on.

What I Found Today (2/9/11)

How Sarah Palin Tortures the Bible: A takedown of Palin’s use of scripture, using more scripture in that magic little thing called “context,” written by Chris Lehmann, the Awl’s religion columnist. The link was found via Ana Marie Cox‘s Twitter feed. She’s also a journalist, and founded The Wonkette, my favorite political site for its focus on politics through a lens of “gin and anal sex.”

Culture in the US vs. Europe: Found via Zadi Diaz’s Twitter stream. A discussion among several women (and the male moderator) about what it means to live in a country where culture is judged by its success at being exported. Also brought up is an interesting discussion about what it means to contain a multitude of cultures–to be Hispanic, East-cost-to-West-coast, southern, in addition to being American. I really liked the discussion of what it means to have a global Internet culture–on some level, what matters is that you’re from the web. Zadi hosts the truly excellent EpicFu video podcast, which is targeted towards teens/young adults and is sort of Rocketboom for teh youths.

Red Panda Video: It’s a group of red pandas, trying to undo a door knob. My ovaries grew three sizes, y’all.

A Vest Pocket Guide to Brothels in 19th-Century New York for a Gentleman on the Go: Found in some archive somewhere, and stuck up by the NYT. It is truly funny, and the commentary by the person who assembled it is just excellent. Worth a read next time one of your professors decides to claim that we are culturally dead because of our obsession with sex/worthless internet media (not that this has ever happened in my classes, golly).

Woodruff Library Undergraduate Research Competition: A totally cool example of what libraries can do well! Undergrads at Emory College can receive $500 for submitting the winning research paper/project. Unfortunately, it does not appear to be open to Oxford College students, which makes me sad because we have no similar contest and our library, though it is staffed by some excellent people, is tiny. All of my sources for my projects come from Woodruff…

What I Found Today (2/7/11)

Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero Talk: I’ve been geeking around on 43folders.com, Mann’s main site. He writes about productivity, mostly through reclaiming your time by removing yourself from systems that constantly feed you information (like email, the subject of this speech). I think a lot of the points that he makes–particularly that non-personal email should be based on actions; you should be able to do something with your email and get out–are really valuable, particularly when emailing professors. Now, if only the people with access to the all-students email list at Oxford would learn this…

Poorly targeted Google Ad: From my inbox. If internships fail this summer…

Romance Novelists Uncover What Women Really Want: A Jezebel takedown (complete with Gawker’s new cracked-out layout–which on each of the affiliate sites has a different little explanation text because why not) of a USA Today column on how dudes should behave more like dudes in romance novels. “Please, men. Do not turn into a stone gargoyle while we are having sex.” Includes a link to the equally hilarious Tumblr Romance Club, a collection of ladies who do some truly excellent book summaries. “HOWEVER, since both of their names are on the back of the book, you know the drill (lol drill). SPOILER ALERT: FUCKING AHOY!”

Packers Won the Superbowl: Packers, woo!

Glenn Beck Loses His Shit About Spiderman: Why the hell is he a Jewish grandpa in the beginning? Who knows! (I want him saying “atheist, god-like scientist” over and over as my ringtone. It will soothe me to sleep.)

AOL Bought HuffPo and Paul Carr Wrote a Thing on It: For those who are not regular TechCrunch readers (avoid the comments, I’m warning you), the story so far is that a few months back, AOL bought TC. Commenters accused TC of selling out and were generally irritating because TC is where YouTube commenters go when they’ve been drinking. Today, AOL bought HuffPo, as part of an overarching strategy to eventually quit sucking quite so hard and become relevant again. Cue comments about teh leftists, worries about headlines moving towards Google bait, and several more months of jokes about AOL. Huzzah!