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What I’m reading – Napoleon III and His Carnival Empire, The Myth of 8-Opus

Who’s exercising their minds?!?

This week I’m zipping through John Bierman’s Napoleon III and His Carnival Empire, which is a fairly good if not terribly in-depth read. I’ve always had a soft spot for Napoleon III, because the Second Empire was such an odd creation led by an odd emperor. Plus, it’s nineteenth century European history, for which I’m a bit of a sucker. Louis Napoleon is an interesting dude – he may not have been related to Napoleon at all (his mother tended to sleep around), he had a lot of liberal tendencies but ruled over an increasingly autocratic state (to be fair, he clamped down on civil liberties after Italians kept trying to assassinate him), and he apparently slept with every woman in Europe. I haven’t gotten to his misadventures against the Prussians in 1870, but it’s keen knowing how it’s all going to end and what kind of ruler Napoleon was that led him to the disaster at Sedan.

I just started Tom Scioli’s latest installment of The Myth of 8-Opus, “The Labyrinth.” If you think Scioli’s art is Kirby-esque on Gødland, you should check out The Myth of 8-Opus, which is a complete homage to the King. It’s a wild space adventure with all sorts of strange things going on and all sorts of weird creations of Scioli’s running around, and it really does read like a cosmic comic from the Sixties, complete with overwrought prose. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, though, and presumably you can order the trades online somewhere. It doesn’t disappoint!

What’s keeping you company as my beloved Philles circle the drain and the most evil team in organized sports sits on the verge of another store-bought title?

22 Comments

I just bought a huge pile of collections and graphic novels at bargain prices. So I’ve read Livewires, that cool Adam Warren-written series from Marvel, still available in digest, and I’m wishing it had become an ongoing. Lots of fun ideas and nonstop awesomeness abound.

Also just (as in, two minutes ago) finished the first ant-sized digest trade of the Irredeemable Ant-Man. It’s a fun little series, though I’m not sold on the asshole protagonist (unless you’re Dr. House, I’m never a fan of asshole protagonists).

Also bought Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution (Sherlock Holmes!!!) and looking forward to starting in on that one.

Just started Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories.

Anyone interested in The Myth of 8-Opus trades can order them directly from me. Drop me a line at sciolit@yahoo.com

The Road is great.

Finishing up my David Foster Wallace book and just started James Dickey’s To the White Sea for the AVClub book club. The AVClub is all smart asses all the time (plus Bill Reed), but the book club is an awfully great place to talk about books and generates genuine, intelligent discussions, and the posters don’t make fun of you (too much). Recommended.

Tom Fitzpatrick

November 2, 2009 at 7:28 pm

I’m re-reading Alan Moore’s run of the Swamp Thing tpbs vol. 1-6, vol. 1 being the hardcover kind.

Man-o-man, am I ever in heaven! ;-)

Just finished the 5th Jack of Fables trade, Ghost of Hoppers, and The Education of Hopey Glass. That means I have to finish Dororo vol. 2 now. The next Fables trade awaits me at the library.

The AVClub is all smart asses all the time (plus Bill Reed),

I think you mean “especially Bill Reed.”

I actually got a large chunk of Peter David’s Fallen Angel and X-Factor along with nearly half of DeMatteis’ Dr. Fate. I’m having a blast reading them. Oh, and I’m on a Thomas Pynchon binge… along with reading all of Douglas Adams’ novels.

Now, excuse me while I lock myself away for days on end until I put myself into a literary coma.

The thing that really turned me against Napolean III was his takeover of Mexico. As far as I’ve been able to find out, there was never any real reason for it. He just wanted to conquer something, and he thought it would be an easy target. It’s hard to have any respect for a leader like that.

(I was not trying to make any parallels to G W Bush, here, regarding takeovers of countries under the impression they’d be easy. But I lost all respect for him as well.)

Rereading the death and return of Superman trilogy…

Also reading V. by Thomas Pynchon. So far, it’s my favourite work of his — not as technically impressive as Gravity’s Rainbow, but more interesting and engaging on a narrative level.

Just finished By Royal Command, the last volume of Charlie Higson’s Young Bond series, The Turquoise Lament by John D. MacDonald (a Travis McGee as mentioned in Friday’s column, recently acquired in hardcover; I’m trying to get all my McGees upgraded to HC, as a sort of bookscouting project to pick at), Children of the Night by Dan Simmons, one of the better Dracula/vampire novels I’ve seen in a while, and am currently alternating between Jack Kirby’s Eternals, Essential Sub-Mariner, and The Shattered World by Michael Reaves.

And I find myself wishing I had a new Bond novel or a new John D. MacDonald to read. This is that weird itch that sends me out prowling the bookstores. It doesn’t bode well for the Read The Damn Books In The Pile project, which continues to be a losing battle.

Hey, I read that Napoleon III a few years back as an offshoot of my Bismarck phase. It wasn’t bad as I recall. A bit light, as you say. Have you read AJP Taylor’s Struggle for Mastery in Europe?

In honor of Charlie Browns Halloween, I broke out Automatic Kafka #4, the greatest Charlie Brown story not done by Schultz.

Also have been meandering through Fables:Peter & Max and really enjoyed Dark Horse Noir, especially the Stray Bullets and Criminal stories. Though not especially suprising because my love for noir can be traced back to Stray Bullets and Criminal, with early 100 bullets thrown in for good measure.

-neil

Also reading V. by Thomas Pynchon. So far, it’s my favourite work of his — not as technically impressive as Gravity’s Rainbow, but more interesting and engaging on a narrative level.

V.’s not bad; there’s that one cool chapter in the middle that stands on its own as a good short story, but overall, as far as V’s go, I prefer “for Vendetta.” And as far as Pynchon goes, my heart cries Lot 49.

Mary: Napoleon did that a lot, not only in Mexico. He wanted to live up to his uncle’s legacy, so he wanted to be imperialistic, but he wasn’t very good at it.

Dan: I read Taylor’s book a long time ago. It wasn’t bad. I like Bismarck too – have you read Edward Crankshaw’s excellent biography of him?

finished Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman in a few hours on Sunday. Reading The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons now. Nothing terribly challenging.

The Road was great, got a little dusty in the jjc household a few times during that one. Still reading Blood Meridian by McCarthy, parts of it are awesome, in other parts my mind wanders so far I have to reread whole sections.

I finished Scalped, vol. 5: High Lonesome and then worked my way through a stack of singles that’ve been waiting on my desk for a while. Thunderbolts, Doom Patrol, Olympus, Hotwire, Secret Warriors, WildCats, Authority

I’ll probably get caught up on Invincible and Viking today.

Just finished CBR’s own Brian Cronin’s “Was Superman a Spy” this weekend – it was even better than I expected it. I tore through it quickly and found it engaging from cover to cover.

Also just finished the Gotham Central Volume 1 hardcover, and am currently plowing through a big stack of pamphlets I’ve been neglecting for the past couple of weeks.

Next up are Willingham’s Fables novel, Peter & Max, the first Godland trade, and Gotham Central Vol. 2.

Just finished CBR’s own Brian Cronin’s “Was Superman a Spy” this weekend – it was even better than I expected it. I tore through it quickly and found it engaging from cover to cover.

Huzzah!

Thanks, Neal!

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 3, 2009 at 5:34 pm

I’m mid-way through Peter And Max, Willingham’s Fables novel.
It’s a nice light read – pretty good stuff to read on the train (as I do).
It’s a bit rough at the start – the prose feel’s a little neil gaiman-lite – but once it gets going it’s pretty good.

On the graphic novel front… I’m at a point where my unread pile is possibly taller than I am!
I’m reading a bit of everything.
Neal Adams Batman is pretty funny, Ennis’ The Tankies was a solid action story, and Dark Horse’s Noir comics collection was alright – Lapham, Azzarello and Brubaker show yet again that they are the best crime writers in comics.

“Dan: I read Taylor’s book a long time ago. It wasn’t bad. I like Bismarck too – have you read Edward Crankshaw’s excellent biography of him?”

Greg: Yes I did Crankshaw’s biography, I agree it was very good – Eyck’s biography is also worth a look.

I’ve been wanting to read Iron Kingdom, Chris Clarke’s History of Prussia, for ages now but my reading time is, sadly, pretty limited so 800 pages would be quite a commitment for me!

Dan: I have Clark’s book too, and as I read my books in alphabetical order by author (yes, I’m just that anal), I’ll get to it fairly soon!

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