So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Gone to Amerikay

Gone to Amerikay by Derek McCulloch
This is a beautifully drawn graphic novel that recounts the tale of an Irish mother and her young daughter who leave for New York in 1870 to stay with an aunt while waiting for her husband to follow. However the book also tells the story of a young man from Ireland who sails for New York in 1960 and becomes involved in the Greenwich Village arts scene of off-Broadway plays, coffee houses, and folk music. And, yes, there is a third story of a wealthy Irishman who hires a private investigator to track down a mystery involving the 1870's mother and the 1960's lad.

Disconcertingly at first, the novel as it progresses switches between these three stories about Irish people in New York. You the reader can see them eventually merging, but it left me a bit confused at first. The stories are richly rewarding and worth any trouble the sudden changes in settings may cause.

The artist excels at portraits of his characters both visually and in character development. I fell in love with the good heroes and even the villains of this richly rewarding portrait of the immigrant experience.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Beauty's Kingdom

Beauty's Kingdom by Anne Rice writing as A. N. Roquelaure
Anne Rice has written a fourth volume to the Sleeping Beauty Trilogy she wrote in 1983 under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure. The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty's Punishment, and Beauty's Release now have a companion volume called Beauty's Kingdom. The original trilogy was an erotic retelling of the Sleeping Beauty legend in which the prince who awakens Beauty after her 100 years of sleep takes her away from her familial home to live in sexual servitude in his mother's kingdom, a land where the children of the neighboring kingdoms are taken to serve and please the nobles of the court.

It has been thirty years between the publication of the final volume of the trilogy and the release of this fourth installment, but in Beauty's world a little over 20 years have gone by. She and her husband Laurent have retired and passed on their kingdom to their son. The old queen and her son have died while on an ocean voyage, and messengers visit Laurent and Beauty to ask if they would be willing to rule her mysterious land of erotic servitude. They agree to become the rulers of what is to become known as Beauty's Kingdom with the stipulation that from now on all erotic servitude be voluntary and no longer restricted to the nobility.

The book is in eighteen chapters, each told from a different person's perspective. Beauty is the narrator of five chapters, her husband King Laurent of two. Lady Eva, who was in charge in the queen's absence has four chapters. The story progresses slowly and without the brutality of the forced servitude of the original trilogy. Yet Anne Rice shows she still can write convincingly and beautifully. Some of the fans of the original volumes are disappointed, which can be expected. This is not volume four of the trilogy. It is a look back at the story by a more mature author and brings her readers for a new look at the setting with a different perspective. No longer is Beauty the passive yet erotically aroused submissive. She is now the queen and it is her vision that will bring the kingdom back to life and give it new meaning. Yet she is not a dominatrix like the old queen, and it is this difference that gives this new volume a life of its own.