Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis is one of the standards by which I measure all other graphic novels.  I loved her Embroideries and Chicken With Plums too so I was excited to see this at my local comic book store.  At first I was disappointed.  It’s a short story, only 56 pages.  The illustrations are recognizable as Satrapi’s but it had a completely different feel to them.  Maybe because they are in color.  Maybe because they stand alone on each page, lost without the boundaries of a comic strip format.  And the story just didn’t do it for me either, especially as a love story.  Maybe because the woman sells herself as a slave to punish herself for accidentally killing her love.  In my opinion, it does not measure up to Persepolis.  It might have been better as a fable told within another story.  In the end, it is the last line that makes this story memorable for me because it isn’t just about love but about life.
“Life hangs from so slender a thread. Life is but a sigh…”

Food For Thought

I found out last week that I have gestational diabetes. I saw the dietician yesterday and she gave me the equipment I need to check my blood sugar four times a day as well as lists of foods and how to manage my diet.  I hate it because I’ve never dieted and I’ve been fortunate enough to maintain a normal weight despite my love of food.  My feeling has always been, what’s the point of making yourself miserable just to be a few pounds lighter?

This minor (and hopefully temporary inconvenience) is nothing compared to what Grant Achatz had to go through when he is diagnosed with stage IV squamous cell carcinoma.  After all he had accomplished, it looked like his star would burn bright for only a short while.  Even knowing how the story ends (or doesn’t, seeing as how he is still alive and well, still creating in Chicago!), I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish the book.

The majority of the book is about how he came to where he is now and what an amazing first 30 years!  His drive is inspirational.  His imagination and endless innovation is staggering.  I am in awe.  He thinks beyond traditional flavors and textures.  He thinks about the emotions that can be evoked by tastes and scents.  He calls on all the senses to create an experience.  I love this philosophy because to me, food isn’t just about eating for sustenance.  It’s about feeding people I love, it’s about tradition, it’s the way I remember, it can be a source of comfort or a reason to get excited.  When we visit a new city, the first thing I do is look for places to eat.  My husband swears he would never pay for a $200 meal (per person) and I have to agree that it is way outside our budget, especially with a baby on the way.  But I hope to someday experience his food.  For now, I can only look at the pretty pictures (see his book Alinea) and dream.

First book of 2012

Today was a cold, gray day and I had no intentions of going out. I needed a day of rest anyway. And it turned out to be a pretty nice day. The husband surprised me with two slices of cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory (which I had been craving) and the baby did all kinds of kicks and punches throughout the day, which amuses me still. And I finished this book. Actually, I couldn’t put it down. Throughout history, people have done terrible things to each other. Sadly, we never seem to learn from those mistakes. “Between Shades of Gray” is told from 15 year old Lena’s point of view, as her family is torn from their homes and taken to Siberia, where they are treated as criminals during Stalin’s reign of terror. The key to their survival is staying together and doing what they can to hold on to their humanity, no matter how they are treated. Lena is an artist and pours out her anger and sadness into her drawings. It is an expression of her thoughts but also a means to remember everything, in hopes that what happened there will never be forgotten. The characters are fictional but the horrors are real. What scares me is that history tells us there will always be people with the capacity to hate, the desire to annihilate, and the means to kill millions of people. What amazes me is people’s ability to hold onto hope through the most hopeless situations.

Hello 2012!

I can’t believe I haven’t posted on this blog since this summer. So much has happened since then. But I will write more in the coming days. I also didn’t make my goal of reading 50 books in 2011 (my husband tells me 45 books is nothing to sneeze at and I don’t like to sneeze because it hurts so I am trying to get over it) so my resolutions for the coming year are:

1. Read more
2. Write more