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Building Stories Pamphlet – 1 October 2012
In Chris Ware's own words, 'Building Stories follows the inhabitants of a three-flat Chicago apartment house- a thirty-year-old woman who has yet to find someone with whom to spend the rest of her life; a couple who wonder if they can bear each other's company for another minute; and finally an elderly woman who never married and is the building's landlady...'
The scope, the ambition, the artistry and emotional heft of this project are beyond anything even Chris Ware has achieved before.
A major moment in British cultural history. -- Christopher Frayling ― Radio 4
Breathtaking... Staggeringly good. ― Shortlist
Just occasionally, a writer or artist – or both in one – emerges who is so astoundingly original that everything else suddenly seems like a facsimile of what has come before. Chris Ware, the 45-year-old American comics artist, is one of these. Widely hailed as one of the foremost practitioners working in the medium today, his new book, if one can call it that without being reductionist, is a work of such startling genius that it is difficult to know where to begin. -- Jake Wallis Simons ― Daily Telegraph
This is the first book which I have finished and immediately started again, wanting to experience each of the stories with full knowledge of what happens in the rest... The number of narrative techniques Ware uses in the novel is giddying... Building Stories is a stunning piece of work, proving yet again why Ware is so frequently included in lists of the greatest living cartoonists. -- Alex Hern ― New Statesman
- Publisher : JONATHAN CAPE & BH - TRADE; 1st edition (1 October 2012)
- Language : English
- Pamphlet : 246 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0224078127
- ISBN-13 : 978-0224078122
- Reading age : Baby and up
- Dimensions : 43.4 x 5 x 29.7 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 189,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Chris Ware writes stories current filmmakers like Thomas McCarthy, Isabel Coixet and Ritesh Batra have managed to pull off when they were at their best (hopefully Batra still is) - stories that convey in the moments and have a subtlety that make the stories seem unwritten while never documentary-like. But this writer doesnt need comparisons with creators in a different medium, being the writer of the brilliant Jimmy Corrigan.
It is very difficult to find graphic novels in recent years of the quality of the likes of Jimmy Corigan, Maus, The Bone series, Fun Home, The Dolls House from the Sandman series, The Watchmen, the Dark Night Returns, but here with Building Stories you have it. The different sections in different publications of his characters lives need not be read in any particular order as the quality of the writing means it is all about the moments rather than the empty impulse to find out what happens next which ultimately only reveals when the book ends that nothing happens next. One thing that is startling to me even after already appreciating the ability of this graphic novelist via Jimmy Corrigan is that he writes as brilliantly about women as he does about men.
I hope that "The Last Saturday" strips will be collected together on hard copy for me to read and treasure. I am waiting until I can get to do both things. In the meantime, does anyone know of anything else of the Building Stories kind of quality (or those from years back that I mention above) in graphic novels from the last 5,6 years, say? I have looked at a few things like Saga, Scott Pilgrim, Unterzakhn, Shortcomings and American Widow, but they dont even come close.
Firstly, the format is novel -- it comes in a curious shape, boxed up like a large board-game, containing strips, a fine book with a delicate gold-coloured spine, bande-dessinee style hardbacks, broadsheet foldouts, and more: 14 items in all! It will not fit in a shelf, unless you split it up.
It's also a novel, in the sense it tells a longer story, in pieces. In fact, you can read it with your friends / significant other at the same time, like the sections of a Sunday newspaper, and compare notes. It won't make sense till you've gone through the whole thing.
So, I guess I'm saying it's not really linear. It's not a book, but a collection of items. The story is dour. If you like Chris Ware, and want something melancholy and difficult, that's fun as well -- if that's possible! -- then this could be what you are after.
Personally, I like it very much, but you need to be in the mood to for this kind of thing.
If right now you want a good read, straightforwardly done -- then maybe not.
It makes sense that this artist who has worked from the micro to the macro in terms of publishing, has brought all these forms together in huge package. It is a remarkable achievement.
Also - I'm in it. Which is nice.