Summer Reading: End of Week 6

21 July 2006

I stayed up late and finished Charles Burns’ wonderfull graphic novel called Black Hole on Wednesday night. I may have been extremely drowsy yesterday, and yes, tired enough to act little weird Thursday evening, but it was totally worth it.

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(A cover from the Black Hole serials of which the graphic novel is composed of.)

Before I read most books, I check out some of the blurbs and customer reviews on amazon.com to get an idea of what the book is about. When I was looking at Black Hole, I caught this quote from Publishers Weekly:

The AIDS metaphor is obvious, but the bug also amplifies already existing teen emotions and the wrenching changes of puberty.

Amazon.com: Black Hole: Books: Charles Burns

Uh, what? Yes, Burns’ characters are carriers of an STD (that mutates their bodies), but outside of there being an STD and the lack of public understanding of its carriers, the “bug” in Black Hole bares little in common with AIDS or the HIV virus. The bug does not kill anyone, nor does it effect everyone the same. Some carriers suffer only mild mutations, while others begin to look much like monsters.

If you ask me, the “Bug” is more a metaphor for the pain, alienation and horror that comes with the being young and susceptible to feelings of love. I think for a lot of people, the experience of falling or feeling they might be in love so young can be an alienating experience. It is common with youth romance to feel like your parents and the adult community just don’t understand your feelings and behavior. The only way to really feel freedom is to escape with your love to a place alone or with your peers who are the only people who can really understand you. Along with this love often comes sex, which, for many people–as well as the characters in the book–results in a certain loss of innocence. Being a sexually active comes with a feeling of being in on what can be seen by youth as one of the biggest mysteries about adulthood. It is only when this, and another mystery I wont give away is solved that the characters are left to come into their own as adults faced with decisions about the future that only they can make.

I’m not really doing it a lot of justice here. This is really a great graphic novel, and I would recommend it to anyone who knows or wishes to remember (you old folks, you) what it is like to be young and in love.

Summer Reading List:

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

2. On Beauty by Zadie Smith

3. Black Hole by Charles Burns

4. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Now I’ve caught up with my goal of a book for every two weeks. Now I just have to find some books to add to my list.

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