Monday, 17 March 2014

Buy this book

Often at the end of review, I will write the following, or some derivation of ' You should buy this book.' I have read recently that this is considered poor critical practice, so here is an explanation of my usage of the phrase.

I write for myself. I love reading, I love comics, I love writing. But I also do it to share those things with people, to share my passions, because they might be your passions, too, or they could be. When I write reviews, these are the aims I have in mind: briefly discuss the story without spoiling anything, was it good or bad, what made it good or bad- and to to do all 3 in terms of both the writing and art as a whole. At the crux, I want to tell you if something is worth your time. There's a ton of books, films, TV, art out there- we can't see it all, so the idea is to use critics as a barometer to help us decide what may or may not be worth the trouble. Sometimes, after reading and dis/agreeing with a critic, or reading and gauging where a critics tastes lie, readers establish trust- so they'll return to that person's writings for their thoughts and guidance. I do this. 

With comics I do this (or attempt to), I believe, in an even more open manner: I want what I write to be accessible to anyone who may stumble upon it, not exclusively comics readers, and so the framework of my review is to assess the text critically and then present the person with my decision- yes, read this, no, don't. I am not in the habit of reading reviews for the sake of reading reviews; it's not where I look for, or present, in depth, critical analysis or reading. I recognise that's not the same for everyone.

I write for myself. I write for other people.

When I say buy this book I am talking also, to people like me for whom art is, and was, barricaded behind financial and socio-political walls, people who didn't grow up with theater and museum trips, with TV and films, with books and the internet, people who saved each month to buy a few luxury items, who spent ages in a bookshop deciding, agonising, over which ones they could take home with them, for whom buying a book -that book- is an ultimate testament, a pledge: this is my fucking hard-earned money and I choose to spend it on you. When I say buy this book, I mean buy this book- it will enrich you and enlighten you, it will burden you and constrict you, you will love and appreciate it, you will disagree with it vehemently, you will read it over and over and you will see something new every time, you will never read it again. You will treasure it, and press it upon people, and talk about it excitedly, obliviously to disinterested people, you will read it to your children- buy this book. When I say buy this book, I mean look at these colours, the neons, the lighting, those lines, the smorgasbord of shades and textures, become enveloped in its atmosphere, wonder at the effect of simply putting one word after another. Buy this book, man.

So don't tell me putting money to something doesn't mean anything, or diminishes, cheapens or lessens the work or art, or my and others experience of it. Dont' tell me that I'm not appreciating something in an appropriate manner. When I buy a book, I buy it as part of me, its physicality and its intangibilty, for everything I will gain out of it and everything I'll miss, the words and images I will take in and mull over and think about and dismiss and build upon and connect. And that's what I want for you, to share with you.

Buy this book.