Monthly Archives: March 2010

Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith, by Gina B. Nahai.

Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith.

A friend from my program mentioned this novel in class last week. The class was discussing magic realism novels, and most of the ones we could think of were set in South America. Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith is a novel by Gina B. Nahai set mostly in Iran, and partly in America.

The story opens in a Jewish ghetto in Tehran, where Roxanna the Angel is born. She dreams of the sea, and wakes in feathers. As with many magic realism stories, this one is generational. There are many mothers and daughters in this novel, which is narrated by Roxanna’s daughter, Lili. When Lili is five years old, she watches Roxanna sprout wings and fly off into the night. This novel tells the stories in Tehran leading up to that night, and the stories that happen afterwards in Los Angeles.

When I first picked up this novel at the library, it was a lot thicker than I imagined and the cover made it look emotionally and intellectually heavy. Actually, I read it in two days because I couldn’t put it down, and the writing is beautiful, lyrical, and very accessible. Because it is a magic realism book, it does have fantastical elements. The character names are mythic too, like Alexandra the Cat and Sohrab the Sinner.

I really needed a great book this week. With course work piling up and papers to be researched and written, I needed something to take me far far away, and this was it.

Ishbel.

ishbel.

Pattern: Ishbel, by Ysolda Teague.
Yarn: SweetGeorgia Yarns Fibre Club, February 2010, “Northwest Wind.”

I normally don’t wear shawls, and this one isn’t really large enough to wear over the shoulders, but they are lovely to wrap around the neck and then toss a jacket on.

This colourway is part of SweetGeorgia’s Fibre Club. I don’t have much time to spin while I’m in school, so it’s being sent to me as fingering weight yarn. The March installment is waiting for me at the post office.

Asterios Polyp, by David Mazzucchelli.

I borrowed Asterios Polyp from one of my professors, and spent a lot of time going through the text and images this past weekend. It is written and illustrated by David Mazzucchelli, whose name you normally see associated with DC or Marvel Comics like Daredevil or Batman. This is not a superhero comic.

Asterios Polyp is narrated by Asterios’ stillborn twin brother, Ignazio. It tells the story of Asterios and Hana, and where Hana might have gone. This graphic novel is rooted in modernist art. Right away, Mazzucchelli visually differentiates his characters with colour, font, and form.

Hana is pink, sketchy, soft; Asterios is blue, geometric, hard.

As Asterios and Hana begin their relationship, their visual difference is startling. As their relationship develops and grows, the two characters are outlined in purple, wearing blue (Asterios) and pink (Hana) clothing. At one point, perhaps the height of their relationship, they switch colours.

Mazzucchelli also differentiates between characters by changing fonts, and the fonts seem to reflect the personality of that individual. There are several panels, too, where Mazzucchelli displays a variety of art forms to represent different types of people.

An argument between Asterios and Hana shifts their visual representations back to blue and pink.

Before I read this graphic novel, I must have misheard my professor or misread an article about it – I thought this was going to be a novel about a professor of Greek mythology. Actually, Asterios is a Greek professor of architecture, but there are several Greek myth references throughout the text, the obvious one being a complete retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, with Asterios as Orpheus holding a t-square instead of a lyre.

In the chapter where Asterios looks back on his relationship with Hana, Mazzucchelli has created pages that illustrate moments in time, flashes of Hana that only an intimate lover would have. These pages are, perhaps, among my favourite graphic novel sequences.

Hana.

Finally, my comics background is not that strong. Here’s an article that provides a more in-depth treatment to Asterios Polyp and a guide to related on-line material.

la petite chouette.

Over the past several years, since I began my post-secondary education, I have found my mind constantly expanding to accommodate new ideas. This semester, the professors in two of my classes have challenged me to stop thinking about pre-conceived notions that exist about texts, and just react.

All the blogs and online journals that I have kept over the past decade tend to end up as a series of entries about my personal life. I’d like to start putting my academic skills to use, and forget about my fears of not sounding smart enough, or not having an opinion that reflects the majority. I already have another place where I can write about my daily life; I’d like to start using this space as a collection of ideas rather than of personal events.

I have a Bachelor of Arts with a focus in English Literature, and I am currently on my way to a Master’s in Library and Information Science – if there’s anything I should have learned to do by now, it’s how to critically engage with my environment. I won’t be in school for the rest of my life, but I always want to be learning and assessing my surroundings analytically. And yes, this includes knitting, photography, and the appreciation of a well-cooked meal.