Reading list for Sep.06

Title: A Confederacy of Dunces
Author: John Kennedy Toole
Year: 1980 (but written during the 1960s)
Publisher: No idea.
What: A comedy; the story of one Ignatius Reilly, a fat, lazy adult still living with his mother in a poor New Orleans neighborhood. He is allegedly an intellectual person- but borderline insane- and lives off his mother… until the day his mother decides he must find a job and help with the bills. What ensues is a series of absurd events as Ignatius attempts to impress his highly-twisted ideals in a real world he believes to be populated by the ignorant and the confuse.
This is a book with an interesting, sad background: The author wrote the book in the 1960s but failed to have it published in the following years, which prompted his s*icide shortly afterwards. The book was finally published in 1980 thanks to his mother’s efforts, who fought long and hard so people would ever give the manuscript a shot. It ended up winning the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Go figure.
Comments: Simply put, this is the greatest movie NEVER made and reading it makes your head hurt because you’re wondering all the time why the hell hasn’t Hollywood taken this gem to the silver screen?!
Not every book manages to make a reader actually laugh instead of just smiling time and again; this one delivers it.

Title: The Informers
Author: Bret Easton Ellis (<-no kidding…)
Year: 1994
Publisher: Clueless.
What: It’s a series of 13 independent but interlocked short stories all (or mostly) set in Los Angeles during the early-to-mid 1980s. As all of Ellis’ previous works, this one’s also based on the premises of a moral & spiritual vacuum that our way of life has brought about: People drifting aimlessly through life, having meaningless s*x with each other, going on dr*nken binges all the time, heavy dr*g abuse, wasting money on the superfluous, etc.
What really gets the book going is the manner in which the tales progress and interweave like a tapestry; the leading character in the first story becomes has a supporting role in the second, then is barely mentioned in the fifth, and so on. Also, some of the characters from Ellis’ other books appear here, like Timothy Price (a minor character in American Psycho) and Sean Bateman (one of the leading characters in The Rules of Attraction).
Comments: Terrific as always and I have come to expect no less from the author, who’s become my all-time favorite. If you’re ever looking for a solid portrayal of the 1980s in literature, search no further.
Also, the author even gets to try his hand at a slightly different theme; one of the tales actually features a club-land vampire (!) as a leading character and your first impression is, “no, it won’t fit in with the author’s over-realistic atmosphere” but the guy goes the distance and not only pulls the trick, but downright makes that story one of the best in the whole book.

Title: Ex Machina vol.I: The First Hundred Days
Authors: Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Tony Harris (artist)
Year: 2004
Publisher: Wildstorm/DC Comics.
What: A graphic novel, kind of a political debate thinly-veiled as a superhero comic book. It’s the story of Mitchell Hundred, a NY engineer-turned-superhero after getting the ability to talk to machinery in a freak accident. Once 9/11 hits and Mitchell is able to actually stop the second plane, he becomes an overnight sensation, ditches his alter-ego and is elected the Mayor of NY. The story is told in flashback, with Mitchell telling the reader about his years in office.
This paperback edition collect #1-5 into the ongoing series, with the story of Mayor Hundred struggling to see the city through a major snowstorm (and plowdrivers becoming the target of a mysterious killer), as riots erupt in the streets after a City Hall-sponsored exhibit of questionable taste opens at the Museum.
Bottom-line is, those guys are good. Jesus Christ. You never see it coming and Whamm!, hits you like a brickwall. I’ve totally, utterly, completely fallen in love with this comic; the way in which the post-9/11, real-world implications of the existence of a “super-hero” are treated simply blow you away.
Of course, Ex Machina was recommended to me by a smart person, so there…

Title: Ex Machina vol.II: Tag
Authors: Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Tony Harris (artist)
Year: 2005
Publisher: Wildstorm/DC Comics
What: Collects Ex Machina #6-10. A serial-killer stalks the streets of NY, and he/she may be connected to events in Mayor Hundred’s past, and the accident that gave him his super-powers.
Also, the Mayor decides to celebrate NY’s first gay wedding, which leads to protests, and the questioning of his own sexuality.
Comments: OK, the above description doesn’t give this story justice because it’s by far the best comic book story’ve ever read but I’m kinda of late to two meetings right now (if such a thing is possible) so just trust me on this one and go read the damn book willya…
I mean, that last-page cliffhanger at the girl’s front door simply… wow. Some things, man… just wow.
If you were looking for a substitute Sandman or Preacher, there ya go, buddy.