Pelican edition 7 issu

Page 28

We’re Reading Mason & Dixon – Thomas Pynchon I have several Thomas Pynchon books on my shelf, waiting to be read, purchased long ago (I’ve taken to affectionately calling him Pinecone – his books are large and intimidating). Mason & Dixon is the first one I have seriously tackled; it hasn’t let his reputation down so far. Written in 17th century styling, Mason & Dixon follows two historical English astronomers, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, on a hallucinatory, globetrotting journey filled with bizarre incidents and eccentric characters. It is raucously funny. When in a school library to begin work as a tutor, I was reading Mason & Dixon in a corner booth and began to audibly laugh, the teenagers, who were still working because it was 3pm and not 3:15pm, noticed and gave me a look the quality of sour milk. I didn’t care. If you feel like cracking open an 800-page book, then give it a go. Eamonn Young Fen – Daisy Johnson Fen is a collection of slippery short stories set in the marshy landscape of England’s Fenlands. The protagonists of the stories, young women for the most part, are grappling with the oddness of sexuality and pubescence, oddness that presents as semi-erotic obsessions with their departed brothers, or transformations into wet animals that swim and crawl away into dark lakes and woods. Three women of a sort of mythological man-eater species, find that Fen people taste different: are indigestible and almost poisonous for the outsider. This speaks to a theme of the collection: that Fen people are significantly connected to their landscape, are made from the mud of their environs. This is a great collection in one of my favourite subgenres – complex female-centric appropriations of folklore and mythology. It is very good rain-reading; I highly recommend. Pema Monaghan Beverly – Nick Drnaso Think CPR dummies mixed with human consciousness, unnerving circumstances, and David Lynch hidden somewhere. Welcome to Beverly. I first stumbled upon this book when the original cover artwork was listed for sale on Tumblr. It’s an alluring isometric design that introduces the estranged cast of Beverly in Drnaso’s restrained, clean drawing style, and muted palette. The six vignette stories stem from Drnaso’s personal history of growing up in the “bland friendliness” of Midwest America. These stories all subtly intertwine as they explore notions of suburban mediocrity, fear and repression. For example, ‘Virgin Mary’ follows a story about a high school girl who was allegedly abducted by an unidentified Middle Eastern man, causing racism and paranoia to consume the community. Alternatively, in ‘Lil’ King’ we witness the sexual anxieties of Tyler, who suffers from a form of OCD called Intrusive Thought Syndrome, a disorder where you have morbid thoughts that are beyond your control. The explicitly anxious visualisations in this story resemble the surreal, and dream-like sequences evident in Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth. Drnaso’s practice has been influenced by Ware in the way he cartoons with a precise simplicity, and an unassuming plainness that amplifies absurd and tragic moments in Beverly. It is understandable that Drnaso took four years to complete this piece of comic literature, for he refers to it as his “first book … everything before Beverly can be considered an exercise or student work”. This is a promising debut from an artist that knows how immerse their readers. Gabby Loo


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