Monday, December 12, 2011

Week 46: Pride of Baghdad, by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon

This graphic novel was loaned to me by a friend and fellow cat-lover. The book tells the story of a group of lions who escape from their zoo in Baghdad after it is shelled during an attack.  It is apparently based on a true story, as the end of the book informs the reader that in 2003, a group of Americans soldiers encountered a group of starving lions wandering around the city. The story is heartbreaking on many different levels. It asks us to consider a constituency of a city (zoo animals) that most people would never think of during a time of war. As the city is bombed and the zoo is destroyed, one feels happy for the lions that have unexpectedly stumbled upon freedom, but the lions are about to experience a life they have never really known. The lion cub, especially, is confused by the outside world. They have all become accustomed to their captivity. Their lack of understanding as to what war is, and why their city is being attacked, echoes the sentiment of many humans. It’s particularly moving to see the illustrations of the wrecked streets of Baghdad.  Seeing the awful landscapes of war reminds the reader of the gravity of what has happened in Iraq. There is no happy ending, and in fact, the book is quite sad, but I enjoyed it very much.

Week 45: Falling Man, by Don DeLillo

Let me tell you – I loathed this book. Every page of it was torture. I know that Don DeLillo is supposed to be awesome, but this book was terrible. The only reason I chose to read this book of his and not one of his two more famous works (Underworld or White Noise) is because this book was in our library at work. I’m sure there are people out there who loved it. It’s about 9/11, which is fine. I’m not one of those people who hates 9/11 stuff; in fact, I find art or literature on that subject to be quite cathartic. But this book was terrible. It’s so pretentiously poetic and obtuse, but not in a clever way at all. In a MISERABLE way. Here is an excerpt that I shall leave you with, and then I shall never speak of this book again:

“Do you have to leave?”

He would stand naked by the bed.

“I’ll always have to leave.”

“And I’ll always have to make your leaving mean something else. Make it mean something romantic or sexy. But not empty, not lonely. Do I know how to do this?”

But she was not a contradiction, was she? She was not someone to be snatched at, not a denial of some truth he may have come upon in these long strange days and still nights, these after-days.

These are the days after. Everything is now measured by after.

She said, “Do I know how to make one thing out of another, without pretending? Can I stay who I am, or do I have to become all those other people who watch someone walk out of the door? We’re not other people, are we?”

But she would look at him in a way that made him feel he must be someone else, standing there by the bed, ready to say what someone always says.