Sometimes, you read something that makes you stop. It clings to you. A few of our writers spoke of the books that have stripped them of their expectations. Here are the best books we’ve read in 2017.
My Favorite Thing is Monsters
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters hasn’t been completely released yet — the second volume is scheduled for a tentative 2018 release — but Book One of Emil Ferris’s masterpiece was my standout favorite piece of literature for 2017. The graphic novel is a tome of intrigue and coming-of-age, told with a darkness and brutality that books about those subjects are too often lacking. Ferris’s drawings are meticulous, gorgeous, and worthy of praise independent of the story; the style of the book is a commentary on the struggles of creating art itself. Artists can appreciate the rich world full of allusions and style; history buffs will welcome its explorations of ’60s Chicago and World War II; noir fans will devour the story’s premise, centered on solving the mysterious death of Anka, a beautiful neighbor. Karen, the story’s self-conscious hero, is admirable as she survives the city streets while trying to figure out who was responsible for Anka’s demise. Whenever the release date for Book Two is set, I’ll be requesting off work that day to read it.
My Favorite Things is Monsters can be found at your local bookstore, or purchased from Fantagraphics for $39.99.
Obsolescence is a comprehensive survey that investigates the concept of architectural expendability. With in-depth looks at historic preservation, the utility of modernism, planned obsolescence, and the rise of “disposable architecture,” Daniel Abramson deftly navigates the complexities of an industry that frequently suffers at its own hands. Though it tends to paint a rather bleak picture of the future of cities, Obsolescence does proffer up feasible solutions to the problems it identifies. A volume very much needed in our time.
Obsolescence can be purchased at the Graham Foundation bookstore, located in the Madlener House at 4 West Burton Place. Open Tues-Fri 10am-5pm.
An anthology of strange tales based on the work of H.P. Lovecraft, but seen through the lens of an African-American neighborhood set in 1950s Jim Crow-era Chicago.
Mike Ruff leans heavily into the dark racial undertones of Lovecraft’s work, with the darker reality of a racially segregated America. Sectioned off like a classic Strange Tales book, Lovecraft Country, paints a larger narrative picture as our characters visit distant worlds, face down vengeful spirits, and match wits with cults bent on tampering with forces beyond their control or reason.
Ruff takes no easy way out and pulls no punches with Lovecraft Country, as the real monsters in don’t come from outside our reality. The true monsters are very real, in the forms of bigotry, racism, ignorance, and violence. Yet the protagonists of Lovecraft Country face down their combined terrors head on with guile, intelligence, humor, and determination.
Also, it was recently announced that Jordan Peele (director of “Get Out”) will be adapting as a series for HBO.