Week Twenty Two: The Monday Review
Updated: Sep 13
1. Death Note, Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
Death Note, Vol. 1 - Black Edition is a Japanese manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. The narrative follows Light Yagami, a teenage genius who discovers a mysterious notebook awry on the steps of his school. The notebook, which belonged to the Shinigami Ryuk, contains the supernatural ability to kill anyone whose name is written in its pages.
The series centres around Light's subsequent attempts to use the Death Note as a method for justice, until it becomes clear that the nature of this word has been convoluted and replaced with control. While Light wanted to create a crime-free society, his efforts are often as immoral as the men and women he seeks to punish. Under the alias 'Kira,' Light must learn to evade L, a curious detective, and the elite Japanese police force.
Death Note was published in Shueisha's manga magazine weekly, from December 2003 to May 2006. It's 108 chapters were collected in 12 tankōbon volumes, and have since been remade into both a manga and live-action television series.
I've wanted to read the manga for a long while, and finished the first volume within a couple hours. The art is beautiful, consistent and original; the story, too, moves with emotional intelligence and introspectiveness. Would highly recommend!
2. The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (Manga Classics), Edgar Allan Poe, Stacy King and various artists.
Published by Manga Classics, with a reprint in Feb 2020, this collection is a striking illustrated compilation of five narratives: The Tell Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, The Raven, The Mask of the Red Death and The Fall of the House of Usher. Adapted by Stacy King, with artists Virginia-Nitouhei, Chagen, pikomaro, Uka Nagao, and Linus Liu, The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (Manga) is a wonderful encounter with Poe's genuis - as dark and twisted as the contents may seem. In many ways, the Manga enhanced my understanding of the Poe's poetics and themes.
3. Sycamore, Kathy Fagan
Meditative and lustrous with natural images, Kathy Fagan's Sycamore is a gorgeous collection of poems that draws upon the sycamore as the creature whose branches and roots offshoot with insights on love, childhood, maturation and the process of recovery in
the season of seperation & falling / Away
The work is scientific at times; at others, words glitter with mythological research. They "gleam like pearls or slowly burning stones."
4. The Gangster We Are Looking For, lê thi diem thúy
I grew up studying my father so closely as to suggest I was certain I saw my future in him. I would inherit his lithe figure and beautiful smile. I would build and break things with my hands. I would answer to names not my own and be ordered around like a child. I would disappear into every manner of darkness only to awaken amid a halo of faces encircling my body. Shame would crush me. I would turn away from the people I loved. I would regard with suspicion the bare shoulders of a woman I desired. The sight of two boys shooting marbles in a dirt yard would fill me with sadness. I would drink to lies about the past. I would beg the dead to come for me. The sight of a young girl playing house, sweeping out an imaginary courtyard with a branch of eucalyptus, and the little song she sang, about a fluttering butterfly, and the way her arm described the course of its body in flight, would haunt me. Whereas my father would disappear into himself when haunted, I would leap out of windows and run.
---- p. 116
Published in 2003, The Gangster We Are All Looking For is a rich, sensitive novel written by Vietnamese-American author lê thi diem thúy. The debut was first published as a short piece in The Best American Essays of 1997, and was also awarded a Pushcart Prize 'Special Mention.'
The Gangster We Are All Looking For slowly unravels in fragments recollected by a nameless narrator, who grows, almost sporadically, with small measures of moving memories and time. The novel follows the narrative as she recalls past experiences as a Vietnamese immigrant. It spans geographic and chronological locations; between Vietnam to America. Illustrations of water are prominent both symbolically and literally throughout the novel as it considers themes of identity, homelessness, family dynamics, cultural tensions, loss and death. The Gangster We Are All Looking For deserves to be read.