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issUe 11 MAr 2013 / VHCLE MAGAZINE

-‘comfort Zone’ – is it There for a reason? by Marc Ingber / editorial essay, Big ray by Jamie Thunder / Moby dick by Tim Sunderman / Master and commander by Myles Lawrence-Briggs / Vhcle Picks / Hallie Bateman / stephanie Jones / Heitor Magno

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Disconnected Featured Illustration by Hallie Bateman (See more on p34)

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contents VHCLE MAGAZINE / ISSUE 11

art

04 contents

music film

05 MASTHEAD

photogr aphy Design

06-07 Contributors

fashion life/politics books

08-013 ‘Comfort Zone’ – Is it There for a Reason? by Marc Ingber

Vhcle man / Woman / picks

014-019 VHCLE BOOKS Editorial Essay by Jamie Thunder 020-023 Big Ray Reviewed by Jamie Thunder 024-027 Moby Dick Reviewed by Tim Sunderman 028-031 Master and Commander Reviewed by Myles Lawrence-Briggs 032-033 VHCLE PICKS 034-049 Q&A with Hallie Bateman 050-063 Q&A with Stephanie Jones 064-079 Photography – Heitor Magno

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masthead MASTHEAD / CONTRIBUTORS

Charlie Lee / Founding Director charlie@vhcle.com Editorial

Cassie Lee / Founding Editor cassie@vhcle.com Jamie Thunder / Books Editor, Sub-Editor jamie@vhcle.com Designers

Raoul Ortega / Visual Director raoul@vhcle.com Thomas Adcock / Visual Designer thomas@vhcle.com CONTRIBUTORS

Marc Ingber, Jamie Thunder, Tim Sunderman, Myles Lawrence-Briggs, Hallie Bateman, Stephanie Jones, Heitor Magno Cover: A Cemetery is a Wonderland , Hallie Bateman -Vhcle Magazine Tel: USA +1 415.364.8568 contact@vhcle.com Facebook: Vhcle Mag Twitter: @vhcle -Published by Charlie Lee: Vhcle Magazine, www.vhcle.com All content copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Without limiting rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior written permission from both the copyright owner and the publisher of this magazine. Vhcle Magazine is not responsible for the return or loss of, or for any damage or injury to, any unsolicited manuscripts or artwork.

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CONTRIBUTORS al phabe t ically by las t name

– Vhcle — OAKLAND, CA

Hallie bateman / illustrator Go a few generations back in Hallie Bateman’s family tree and there are just claw marks left by a family of bears. She sometimes drinks paint water by accident and once drew a series of portraits of her friends as potatoes. She is the art director at The Bygone Bureau and Pandodaily. www.halliebateman.com – Vhcle — MINNEAPOLIS, MN

marc ingber / writer Marc Ingber is a communications specialist and writer for a nonprofit based in Minneapolis, MN. He was born and raised in the Twin Cities and attended journalism school at the University of Kansas. His primary interests include rock n’ roll, movies, food and drink, the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Twins - probably in that order. – Vhcle — AUSTRALIA

stephanie jones / artist Stephanie Jones is an Australian artist who makes drawings and objects. Her work is concerned with the domestic, as both a physical and psychological space. Recent works, such as Sugar Town and The Shadow of Love series, deal with the decorative surface, drawing on a range of sources including wrought-iron gates and fencing, interior architectural mouldings, textile designs and patterned wallpapers. www.stephaniejones.com.au – Vhcle — OCCIDENTAL, CA

Myles Lawrence-Briggs / Writer A 24 year-old recent graduate from CU Boulder in English literature, Myles has moved back to the wine country to start a wine label with two childhood friends. He manages the estate vineyard and in his spare time reads far too much and writes far too little. www.senseswines.com

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/ CONTRIBUTORS

– Vhcle — BRAZIL

heitor magno / photographer Heitor Magno is a visual artist from Brazil that works in various mediums, from painting to films, and photo manipulations. The Brazilian wonder does an amazing job capturing and manipulating/editing these interesting photographs. www.heitormagno.tumblr.com – Vhcle — SAN FRANCISCO, CA

tim sunderman / writer Tim Sunderman is a graphic designer in the San Francisco bay area who does most of his art without a computer, using traditional techniques in drawing, painting, photography, calligraphy, and even sculpture. He is a graduate of the Academy of Art in San Francisco. He eschews speaking of himself in the third person, as he is here, but doesn’t mind too much for shameless self-promotion. www.timsunderman.com – Vhcle — READING, UK

JAMIE THUNDER / WRITER Jamie Thunder is Vhcle’s books editor, and he works, reads and writes in the South of England. When he’s not doing any of these he runs long distances, and is always very relieved when he’s got to the end.

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Light Lea k s / Featured photography by Heitor Magno (See more on p66)


The Comfort Zone – Is it There for a Reason? -wr iter

M a rc i ngbe r Ma rch 2013 V hcle Maga zine Issue 11, pp0 8 -13

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Though she may not be the cultural force she once was, Madonna probably won’t be in a bread line anytime soon. Her 2012 tour, the “MDNA Tour”, earned a little more than $300 million, making it the highest grossing tour of the year. In what seems like a parallel universe (but one that actually exists), Madonna directed a movie in 2011. It was called W.E. and IMDB describes its plot as “the affair between King Edward VIII and American divorcee Wallis Simpson, and a contemporary romance between a married woman and Russian security guard”. The film grossed approximately $582,000 on an estimated $15 million budget. It wasn’t a critical hit either. On Rotten Tomatoes, it earned a 13 percent positive rating, signifying it as “rotten”.

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I bring up this second topic not to make Madonna feel bad, but rather to illustrate that it’s fair to say the general public is more interested in paying to watch her sing and dance than direct a movie. This is not necessarily news. In spite of a massively successful singer career, Madonna’s movie career stretching back three decades has yielded mixed results at best. The high points haven’t been all that high and the low points have been really low. But she keeps plugging away.

In some ways, she deserves props for continuing to attempt film despite decades of underwhelming response. It’s easy to continue doing something that brings you accolades and financial reward. It’s much harder to continually follow your muse into an area that rarely brings anything but ridicule. It’s the ultimate version of “stepping out of your comfort zone”, as so many self-help books encourage.

It’s a strange phenomenon – a singer who makes millions touring the world who is intent on continuing to work in a medium where people generally avoid her work in droves. While she is far from the only singer to have an underwhelming film career, it’s safe to say most either give up after a while or don’t have the opportunity to keep trying. Naturally I don’t know Madonna personally, so I can’t tell you first-hand why she continues to work in film. Maybe she is holding out for a critical and commercial smash to prove all her “haters” wrong. Maybe she genuinely enjoys the creative challenge, regardless of the results. Or maybe she’s just bored.

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It’s interesting how artists in various mediums do, or ultimately don’t, stray too from their comfort zone. Most musicians, actors, writers, etc. who take their craft seriously suggest they avoid repeating themselves and continually try to flex their artistic muscle. A handful of them actually do, but most don’t stray too far from the type of work that originally brought them success. Johnny Depp has spent his career generally avoiding the romantic leading man roles his frighteningly natural good looks would likely point him toward. If I had to guess, I would say he didn’t want to get typecast in this sort of role early on in his career. The irony is that he has played so many quirky oddballs in Tim Burton movies over the years that his career trajectory has probably been as predictable as it would have been if he


/ The ‘comfort zone’ – is it t her e for a r e a son ?

stuck to the good-looking, leading man roles. You can more or less guess his next role will be a socially-challenged eccentric with a weird haircut. (No offense Johnny, I still think you’re a good actor.) Musicians of all genres often have a relatively narrow sonic window in which they operate. Despite some nuances, their new music ends up sounding very similar to what they have released prior. As shocking as it would be to hear Bruno Mars release a song that sounded like Radiohead, it would be just as shocking to hear Radiohead record a song that sounds like Bruno Mars. “Arty” bands usually sound as much like themselves as Top 40 artists do. There are some who do attempt new genres on a constant basis, often leading to maddening results for their longtime fans. Elvis Costello started off his career by releasing three punk/new wave albums that sounded fairly similar to each other. Since then, he’s spent his career jumping from experiments in chamber pop, Americana, country, New Orleans-style R&B, jazz and more. Some of these ventures yielded great results, some did not. While it’s impossible to accuse him of resting on his laurels, the majority of his longtime fans feel those early albums still represent his peak period.

A film director who has followed this approach is Steven Soderbergh. His career has included low-budget indie cult hits like Sex, Lies and Videotape and Schizopolis; star-heavy popcorn films like the Ocean’s Eleven movies; Oscar winners like Traffic and Erin Brockovich; and even male-stripper movies (Magic Mike). If Soderbergh has a “comfort zone”, so to speak, it’s difficult to figure out what it is. This comfort-zone philosophy is something we have all heard over and over again since we were young. On one hand, it certainly makes sense to broaden your horizons and attempt things you would usually avoid on the off chance you have a skill you weren’t aware of. On the other hand, some “lifestyle coaches” believe in the exact opposite – that you are better off figuring out what you are naturally good at in life and work on perfecting those skills. This suggests that if you have a natural knack for writing, the time you spend learning how to knit, for example, is just taking time away from developing a skill that you are more likely to succeed in. Or if you have always been good at fixing cars, maybe you shouldn’t worry too much about becoming an excellent basketball player.

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While it’s ridiculous to suggest that everyone limit themselves to one hobby or line of work, this second theory makes sense. Though your mom and first-grade teacher might disagree, as a realist, I tend to think you can’t accomplish everything you want in life – that there are many skills you simply don’t have and never will. This perhaps is disheartening, but it doesn’t mean you have to avoid the areas where your interest far outweighs your ability. You don’t have to be a master vintner to be a wine aficionado. The key is to figure out what your skills are and not overstretch yourself. So in Madonna’s case, I certainly won’t fault her for attempts at directing or acting in movies. But just think about all the people who are rocking out to “Like a Prayer” in their car the moment you are reading this. Maybe she should just appreciate the fact that she can make a catchy dance track like few in music history and leave the King Edward VIII movies to someone else.

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V hcle Book s, March 2013 V hcle Maga zine Issue 11, pp14-31


-E di tor ial essay

ja m i e t hu n de r --

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HELLO, and welcome to the first ever Vhcle Books section.

This issue we have three reviews: one of a classic, one of a favourite, and one of a recent title plucked from Amazon’s ‘new releases’. We’re always looking for new ideas and contributors, so please get in touch if you’re interested: jamie@vhcle.com. We’ll also have a book-related essay in each issue. As section editor I’ve taken the liberty of writing the first one, asking a question that any reviewer should ask themselves: what do we mean when we say a book is good? It seems simple enough. A good book is a... is a... a... Alright. Let’s start with what is not good. It’s easy, and can be a lot of fun, to point and laugh at terrible writing, whether Dan Brown’s strikingly predictable descriptions of his protagonists, or E L James’s description of an orgasm as ‘like a washing machine on spin cycle... wow’, or James Patterson’s routine cliffhanger sentences.

And yet. Millions of people buy their books, and even if they do not consider them great art they enjoy them. It doesn’t follow that popular books are necessarily good books (popular books often owe their popularity to factors outside the text, such as the strength of the publicity machine behind them), but it would be snobbish and short-sighted to insist that their popularity means they are bad books. Maybe what is a good book is an individual, personal reaction. Yet such an egalitarian and relativist view doesn’t sit comfortably. It feels certain, so obvious, that some books in particular are by any measure better than other books in particular. A code that puts, say, Kazuo Ishiguro on a level with Lee Child seems like no code at all. Delve into why that should be, however, and you immediately hit a bedrock of opinion. Is it that one deals with deeper themes? Perhaps, but it does not follow that the deeper the themes the better the book – and the themes that matter will vary from person to person. Is it that one can enthrall me, surround me

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with its world? Perhaps, but The Hunger Games did that to me recently, and I would not want to elevate that above ‘enjoyable’.

I not read the latter, I’d have enjoyed the former more.)

Is it that one has a coherent plot, characters I believe in, and dialogue I can imagine spoken by those characters? Perhaps. Yet that seems to require my imagination to do a lot of work, and different people’s imaginations can handle very different requirements. And then there are the people who say the novel is dead; its ore has been exhausted, the gems long discovered; those who continue with this spent form are merely displacing dust and rocks. They might point us towards ergodic literature, which embraces non-linear (and even incoherent) plots that require considerable effort from the reader. Ah yes, the reader. What a reader brings to a book should not be ignored. They bring a state of mind, an imagination, a linguistic ability, an environment in which they are reading the book. They also bring a reading history, which, depending on the history and on the book being read, might enrich or diminish the experience, either by noticing references to other works or missing them entirely. (My enjoyment of The Hunger Games turned into amusement as I realised it was going to end exactly like Battle Royale; had

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We associate certain books with certain times, or even music. Norwegian Wood was the first book I read after a breakup; I will always associate Remains of the Day with All Eternals Deck by the Mountain Goats as I read it with that album on repeat. Even now, listening to it reminds me of the book. Any review I wrote of either book would inevitably be coloured by those situations. They were part of the experience. And so, reluctantly, grudgingly, digging my heels into the sand as I’m dragged towards the inevitable destination, I have to admit that there is no objective measure of a good book. But where does that leave reviewers in this fog of subjectivity? Well, simply to give their own view of a book. There are those who would dismiss any opinion from anyone who has not read a prescribed list of classics (a list that would, of course, vary at least slightly from person to person). Perhaps because I have rarely read the books they name I shy away from that view, but it has its merits. A reviewer needs the knowledge and the references to know whether a plot is formulaic, whether


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a character is a stereotype, and whether the author is lazily rehashing elements of their previous work. Of course, the reviewer owes it to the reader – and the author – to try to look at the book from a wider angle. If the reason you struggle through Ulysses is not its narrative style as such but the fact you were reading it on the 7.05 commuter train and being constantly jostled by fellow passengers, it would not be fair on James Joyce or his prospective readers to slate it.

I hope we can offer intelligent, thoughtprovoking reviews of new and old books. It won’t all be fiction, although that’s our focus for the first few issues. There’s no particular type of fiction we want to review, although we’ll tend towards the literary over the genre, and the adult over the children’s (and perhaps there’ll be a future essay on those distinctions). For now, please enjoy this inaugural Books section. If you’ve any comments or suggestions, do get in touch. Happy reading!

Our reviewers all love books, although they might love very different books. So here’s what we’ll do: give an honest opinion having made an effort with the book, supported as much as possible by the text itself rather than external factors. We’ll say what we enjoyed or disliked, and why. We won’t spoil the ending if you want to read it yourself (and yes, saying ‘you’ll never guess the twist!’ is definitely spoiling the ending). We also won’t pretend it is anything other than one person’s view. This is also why we’re not – for now – using a ratings system. The reviews themselves are not long, but underneath each one there’ll be a one-line summary if you’re in a hurry.

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Big Ray -

michael k imball

-r eviewed by

ja m i e t hu n de r V hcle Book s, Ma rch 2013 V hcle Maga zine Issue 11, pp20 -23

YOU CAN TELL a lot about a book from its cover – or at least from the jacket quotes that adorn

it. Michael Kimball’s fourth book carries endorsements from the usual suspects: the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Oprah.com (Big Ray has been out in the US since September, arriving in Britain last month). But the headline space on the cover is reserved for Jon McGregor, a well-regarded but hardly household-name British novelist. It’s an interesting choice, and could mark it out as a niche literary book rather than one deserving a wider audience. But Big Ray is a book to devour. Every one of its quietly considered paragraphs, each split by an asterisk break and divided into 29 chapters, leads you relentlessly onward. Just one more, just one more then I’ll stop, you tell yourself, until you discover you’ve accidentally scarfed the lot.

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It’s appropriate, because over the course of this memorable novel we learn that the title character, Ray Harold Carrier, has something of an eating problem:

What really marks Big Ray out is the sparse simplicity of the writing, which often lends a welcome note of humour to what could be overbearingly bleak. It’s a book of a man in shock, trying to make sense not just of his father’s recent death, but also of his life by tracing it as best he can; it’s also a book about his father, who we only glimpse from certain angles, and his life. It treads the line between the idealistic unquestioning bonds of family and the complicated reality with great poise – tantalisingly, the book is dedicated to the author’s late father.

Toward the end of his life, my father had difficulty walking. This was partly because of his weight and partly because he had developed bone spurs on his feet (which were partly caused by his weight). The bone spurs were his feet’s response to being asked to carry so much weight. His feet started making extra bone to support the extra pounds. His feet were the only thing trying to do something about my father’s weight. Ray isn’t just physically large; he occupies a gigantic space in his son’s – the narrator’s – mind. At the start of the novel Daniel Carrier takes the call that informs him he no longer has a father, and the rest is taken up by his recollections. Sometimes these are spurred by photographs of his father, other times simply looking back over his memories. He remembers being a child, revelling in being called Tiger and all too frequently craving recognition that doesn’t come; and he remembers the later years when, freed from the blinkers of childhood, he starts to feel a combination of shame, pity, and love that pushes and pulls him from one perspective to another.

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Autobiographical or not, the father-son relationship in Big Ray is complicated and honest. Dan misses his father, but feels almost guilty for it. He feels lost knowing his dad is dead, but also relieved. His narration is all the more moving for its tentative uncertainty; there are no easy, sweeping statements to be found here. It would have been easy to turn the tender into the mawkish and the angry into the shrill. Kimball, though, uses understatement to great effect, and his subtlety rescues the book from becoming bludgeoning. For such a ‘simple’ book – and the style mostly avoids becoming tiring – I found the timeline difficult to follow at first, which is unnecessary given its simplicity (it reveals


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But these are minor points that should not detract from what is an impressive achievement, one that stays with you some time after the tell-tale compression of the final pages. It’s an underrated skill to write simply yet effectively, and Kimball has done it very well. Big Ray is a huge success.

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that the story is being told a few years after Ray’s death). More significantly, there’s one moment, near the end, where Kimball pulls back the curtain just a little too far, and makes Ray’s story a little too neat. It becomes too easy to hate him, and the balance is tipped when there had been a careful, sinister tension. It’s a strange mis-step, although the reveal handled well – but I can’t help wishing the unsettling hints dropped earlier had remained veiled.

Verdict: They fuck you up, your mum and dad

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Moby Dick -

he r man M elville

-r eviewed by

t i m su n de r m a n V hcle Book s, Ma rch 2013 V hcle Maga zine Issue 11, pp24 -27

“CALL ME ISHMAEL.” And so begins one of the greatest books in literature. Widely regarded

as the best American novel of the nineteenth century, Moby Dick lives up to its reputation. It is a whaling adventure written in 1851 based on Melville’s own whaling experiences in his early twenties. The book itself is a massive tome of dense prose, and the storytelling does not lend itself to the cinematic style of pushing the story forward with every sentence. Rather, Melville seems more intent on expounding on the breadth and depth of the whaler’s virtues, indignities, and travails than to simply spin a yarn. So he presents a great volume of short chapters, mostly three to five pages in length, to both fashion the narrative of events and provide exhaustive background to some of the finest details in the endeavor. You will find brief chapters describing nothing more than the cabin table, pitchpoling, squid, or a fossil whale. This style of writing is quite outside our familiar expectation of finding out “what happened next?” But what it does accomplish, together

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with Melville’s immensely powerful command of language, is to build an enormous structure of bulk, content, and surface filigree that he is then able to wield like a crushing sledge in forging the gigantic drama that plays out.

addresses the possibility of hunting whales to extinction, and concludes, based on the vast herds of whale pods he encountered, that that would be impossible. Of course, history bears him out to be wrong.

The storyline is hammered to the cross of Captain Ahab’s obsession to exact revenge on the white whale that took his leg. But Melville is wise to tell the story from the point of view of the deck hand Ishmael. The seething foreboding of the Captain’s destructive path becomes far more forceful in front of the veil of his autocratic dictates. Ishmael is not content to simply tell his story, he vehemently argues the points of his narration such as the elevated status of the predatory sperm whale in comparison to the lowly baleen whales. He argues about the superiority of its oil and skin, even its countenance and its bearing. He waxes endearingly about the majestic beauty of the sperm whale while remorselessly bringing its destruction. Our modern sensibilities cringe at the thought of harpooning whales to the edge of extinction, and we wonder how this contradiction of admiration and plunder can stand. But, as with all books from another time or place, we must stretch to imagine the mentality of that time and the particular lens of perception that formed the understanding within that context. In fact, Ishmael directly

All the while, one has to suspect that Ishmael is not simply a projection of Melville’s alter ego, but a masterful working of literary craft to expertly establish the persona of his protagonist, fully imbued with opinion and academic misinformation that might be consistent with the limitations of an educated whaler’s logic. Neither an optimist nor a cynic, Ishmael is an honest man of clear conscience who carries a palpable but indescript view that life holds more sorrow and difficulty than joy. So, in the long view, Moby Dick is more of an exercise in the aesthetic of this worldview than a revenge story. And yet, its pages are filled with a dry, almost morose, unceasing humor. This, for me, is the human warmth that carries the story and brings us onboard, making the tragedies and losses that much more heartfelt. So, what is it about this book that brings it such high regard? It is Melville’s forward, unassuming clarity. But within that clarity is a man of incredible knowledge and experience. He never attended college, but the two years he spent at the Albany Academy in New


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York studying the classics embeds his writing into the long history of Western literature with many references to classical works throughout. And yet, he detested allegories. Moby Dick is certainly not one. However, the weaving of metaphors occurs on multiple levels, from the openly self-effacing metaphors like the coffin-turned-lifebuoy, raising the hackles and dread of every seafarer, to the far more subtle harmonic inferences woven into the roles of the characters like gear teeth enmeshed in interlocking forces. But make no mistake, Melville’s characters are flesh and blood, and his skill at adopting distinctive dialogue to carnate his characters demonstrates his consummate human insight. And then there is the invisible pall of misfortune and calamity revealed in the inner thoughts of his sailors and in the overt symbols that speck the story. Moby Dick is no Sunday walk in the park, but it is a compelling, rugged, and rewarding novel.

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Master and Commander -

Pat r ic k o’br ian

-r eviewed by

M yl e s L aw r e nc e-Br ig g s Vhcle Books, Ma rch 2013 V hcle Maga zine Issue 11, pp28 -31

PATRICK O’BRIAN is a tricky author to nail down. On the surface his prose seem straightforward

and his famous Jack Aubrey novels appear to be nothing more than an exciting sea adventure. And there would be nothing wrong with that. Pirates of the Caribbean has proved that there is a receptive audience out there for that kind of thing. But O’Brian’s style is deceptively complex: he masterfully and subtly builds his characters, growing them and evolving them right before the reader’s eyes. The result is that while on the surface Master and Commander seems a simple adventure at sea, it is truly a character study set within the time of Nelson’s Royal Navy. Our story follows Jack Aubrey, a recently promoted “master and commander,” a rank just below captain, who has just been given command of His Majesty’s Ship, The Sophie. When we first meet Jack, he is a morose lieutenant lamenting being passed over for promotion yet again. In his low spirits he almost challenges a man to a duel during a humorously passive-aggressive confrontation at a music recital. The next day he learns that he has in fact been promoted, and running into the

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man from the night before, apologizes and invites him to dinner and the two become fast friends. And there we have our second protagonist: Stephen Maturin, an aloof and intelligent physician who will become The Sophie’s surgeon. This rocky start to their relationship is soon revealed to be typical of Jack’s wildly oscillating mood. In his unbridled enthusiasm at being promoted, Jack immediately overloads The Sophie, a very small ship, with heavy guns in an attempt to turn her into “a real man o’ war,” much to the vexation of his new crew. In fact Jack swings so frequently from abject despair to maniacal energy that one could make a strong argument for the diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

I have only two gripes with this book. One: O’Brian spends a bit longer than necessary building his characters, and two: if the reader has not even a little knowledge of ships, things can be confusing.

This is the heart of the issue and what makes O’Brian really shine as a writer. He compels the reader to take apart and understand each character and genuinely care about what happens to them. This makes it all the more thrilling when Jack and Stephen are at odds, or when Jack is forced to navigate the pitfalls of British society and the Naval hierarchy. The characters grow and change right before our eyes, and by the end of the book they are not the same people we met at the beginning, but it’s done in such a subtle way that it can pass by the inattentive reader unnoticed.

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To address the first, there were times where the book felt like “Jane Austen at sea,” which is by no means in and of itself a bad thing. I would be very interested to read that book. The problem arises when O’Brian switches modes from epic sea battles to the social faux pas of a powdered wig being off kilter. I appreciate that it’s there – it makes for rich character development and shows an interesting cross section of British society in the early 19th century – but there’s simply too much of it in some places, and it can slow the pace of the book to something like that of a glacier. The second is an easy trap to fall into. History buffs and sailors will be delighted with the painstaking detail that O’Brian goes into in order to accurately portray life aboard a sailpowered warship, but the rest of us will have some trouble. Your average reader will not know what a forecastle is on a ship, or where characters even are in a scene when one is luffing the headsail and shouting to another up in the spars. The book even has a diagram


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Overall these complaints only detract a little from an overall delightful experience. The slow paced character-development portions of the book will make the payoff of the epic sea battles ten times more satisfying, and while at times confusing, the technical and historical accuracy gives a window into the life of a 19th century sailor. The bottom line is that O’Brian does what every writer is told to do over and over incredibly well: show, don’t tell. I heartily recommend this book, and will be continuing on in the Jack Aubrey series, as O’Brian has created two well-rounded characters that I care about deeply, and I can’t wait to see where they end up next.

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with the names of no less than 21 different sails, and I found it lacking.

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V HcLe PICKS

A A B C D E

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a / MonocLe Fog Linen Linen tray Set

B / BrooKLYn indUstries professor Corduroy Blazer

c / antHroPoLogie Blythe Eyelet Cardigan

d / toMs katia Chambray Ballet Flat G e / FieLd notes

F / King Pin donUts (Berkeley, CA)

g / KinoKUniYa BooKstore tote Bag

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Hallie bateman

-I L LUS t r At IoN March 2013 Vhcle Magazine Issue 11, pp34-49

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/ h a llie batem a n

How/when did your interest in illustration begin? I’ve always loved drawing, but I wasn’t entirely aware of what illustration was until college. I spent one summer when I was unemployed just writing little stories on my blog and illustrating them. Over that summer it just clicked for me that that’s what I wanted to do. Almost as soon as I was aware of that, I wanted to illustrate anything and everything. I did illustrations for the school newspaper, made posters for the radio station, but still was ravenous for more work. I had known of The Bygone Bureau because it was started by some alumni. Their site had great writing but no images. So I emailed them being like, “Hey! You need some art! Let me draw pictures for you!” Since then I’ve rarely been without a deadline.

Illlustration: Blue Glow (Opposite page), Must Draw (This page)

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People/things that influence/inspire you?

sometimes try to art direct myself, but I’m very hard to control. I let a lot of things slide that would never work if I was two separate, sane people.

So many wonderful artists. Graham Roumieu, Maira Kalman, Edward Gorey, Saul Steinberg… way too many to name, actually (and too many I don’t know yet). As much as their work, I’ve always been obsessed with learning about artists themselves. Not just visual artists – comedians, filmmakers, writers. Anyone who is creative. I love hearing about how someone works, how they started, the trajectory of their career, what they ate for breakfast. I love Art21, Fresh Air, TED, The Paris Review, the WTF podcast. All super inspiring. Also, I stalk artists on the internet a lot. You are illustrator and also the art director for The Bygone Bureau – tell us a bit about your thoughts on illustration vs. art direction My early work for The Bygone Bureau is basically how I learned to illustrate. After a couple years they brought me on as art director. I had never been art directed in my life, and suddenly I was an art director. It was cool. I felt fancy. But I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I learned very quickly that you can’t just draw using someone else’s hand. And you don’t want to! When I art direct I have to restrain my illustrator self completely. My art director self takes over. It’s this funny, very carefully controlled process aimed at giving the artist the most freedom possible while still meeting certain demands. Since I developed these two sides, I

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You have a degree in creative writing and both your parents are journalists – has this influenced your work in any way? I think my parents gave me a wonderful introduction to working in a creative field. They were (and still are) each others’ editors, and I grew up hearing them talk about writing all the time. So I never thought about work and life as being separate. I saw that you can do what you’re passionate about, and make it your life. Starting very young I was making fictional newspapers, magazines, movies, and comics all the time. Actually, what I do now is bizarrely similar to stuff I did as a kid. Some might say I’ve refused to grow up, but I think I’ve really maintained that sense – work is play! Just because you’re doing your job doesn’t mean you can’t be totally ridiculous and have fun. (Continued on p42)


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Can you tell us a little about one of your most memorable illustrations? Yeah! I’m pretty excited about a comic I did recently, which started a couple of years ago when I found some of my mom’s journals from when she was 17 and traveling around Europe for a summer. It was amazing to read them. I felt like I was time-traveling, hanging out with my mom as a teenager. And she was such a great writer even then. The journals are witty, sweet and profound. One of my favorite parts was a guide to kissing she wrote in a silly, ‘Miss Manners’ style. I held onto it for a while, and this Valentine’s day I turned it into a comic and illustrated the whole thing. It was incredible to uncover a great piece of writing and give it life again – something that otherwise would just stay in this old notebook, unread, FOREVER. And my mom had totally forgotten she even wrote it. When she saw it she couldn’t believe it. She said, “That’s the best thing I’ve ever written!” Favorite drink? I love anything ginger! Ginger tea, ginger ale, ginger kombucha… I can’t think of other ginger stuff.

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stepHanie jones

-A rt IS t The Shadow of Love, Butades’ Biscuits, Cast series, March 2013 Vhcle Magazine Issue 11, pp50-63

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Stephanie Jones is an Australian artist who makes drawings and objects. Her work is concerned with the domestic, as both a physical and psychological space. Recent works, such as Sugar Town and The Shadow of Love series, deal with the decorative surface, drawing on a range of sources including wrought-iron gates and fencing, interior architectural mouldings, textile designs and patterned wallpapers. Jones is fascinated by the idea that surfaces are not ‘flat’. In other words, the way that the ornamental (ie everything traditionally considered superficial, trivial, and in particular, feminine) operates as a site of metaphoric ‘depth’: “Jones makes real the affects associated with and contained in domestic materials so that what is frequently derided as sentiment emerges with all the power of affect-impelled involuntary memory.” (Anna Gibbs, University of Western Sydney, Sugar Town: Stephanie Jones, 2012). The Shadow of Love series began in 2004 and is inspired by Pliny the Elder’s tale commonly known as ‘The Origin of Drawing’. Pliny (23-79AD) told of a maiden who, upon learning of her lover’s impend-

ing departure to the battlefield, inscribed his silhouette on the wall of her home. The story was widely depicted in 18th century romantic painting and in recent times has become a highly theorized allegory of representation and memorialization: “For it is the nameless daughter of Butades who instituted the entire iconography of drawing, an iconography that has to do with love on the verge of separation, loss and mourning – the love of Echo for Narcissus. When the daughter of Butades learned that her lover would have to leave on the following day, she took up a stylus in order to trace the outline of his silhouette on the wall, as though this shadowy outline of him would draw him, draw him back to her one day.” (David Farrell Krell, The Purest of Bastards: Works of Mourning, Art and Affirmation in the Thought of Jacques Derrida, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000. p.51) “The silhouette stands not merely at the threshold of modernity, but at the very threshold of visual representation itself. It is a representational practice, a representational form, which dates back to the mythic moment when the Corinthian maiden traced

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the shadow of her imminently departing lover on the wall, outline left to stand as a melancholic memorial object. With examples ranging from the petroglyphs of prehistoric cave dwellers in the Paleolithic era to the projections and installations of multimedia artists in the present … the shadow – stilled and arrested as silhouette – has fundamentally structured a history of visual representation.” (Lisa Saltzman, Making Memory Matter: Strategies of Remembrance in Contemporary Art, University of Chicago Press, 2006. p.55)

What is the story behind the idea of using Butades’ biscuits (royal icing on Arnotts biscuits) as part of your Shadow of Love series?

The Shadow of Love series explores a topography of emotional themes, literally mapping them onto the surface of the domestic. In Jones’s wallpaper drawings, silhouetted figures are rendered into the ‘negative’ spaces of the low-relief surface. Using the simple method of coloring-in with pencils, Jones transforms a familiar and perhaps ‘artless’ method into a precise and exacting exercise of control and endurance, purely by way of the exaggerated scale at which the rendering is carried out. These works are a major investment of the artist’s time, and Jones finds the repetitive and lengthy nature of the process to be on the one hand tranquilly therapeutic, and on the other, a test of her patience and perseverance. She feels that the process produces a ‘space of practice’, through which she can inscribe and project her own experiences.

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Butades’ Biscuits was made specifically for a themed exhibition in 2009 called ‘The Country Show’, organised by local Canberra artists Julie Cuerden-Clifford and Waratah Lahy. The exhibition was a celebration of the traditional Australian agricultural show (I think in America you call them county fairs), and artists were invited to make artworks that could be entered into a ‘category’ just like in real country shows, eg handicrafts and folk arts, cooking and cake decorating, food and produce, livestock and pets, wood chopping, side show alley, etc. This was the second Country Show that Julie and Waratah organised, and they’ve recently completed a third version at the Bega Regional Gallery on the far south coast of New South Wales. This time round they took the project even further, and had a stall at The Bega Show, promoting the exhibition and hosting a button badge workshop. Butades’ Biscuits grew out of a number of things. I have been experimenting with cake decorating techniques in my art practice since the mid-1990s, at first making small wall pieces out of fondant and royal icing (frosting) and later producing larger scale works and


Butades’ Biscuits

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(Above) Sugar, 2008, from The Shadow of Love series, colour pencil on textured wa llpaper, mounted on ragboard, 50.5 x 40.5cm

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ephemeral installations with icing, sweets and bubblegum tape. In 2004, during my Masters degree at the ANU School of Art, I began The Shadow of Love series of drawings on wallpaper. This series was inspired by the ancient Roman story commonly known as ‘The Origin of Drawing’, as told by Pliny the Elder: a Corinthian maiden (the daughter of the potter Butades) learns of her lover’s imminent departure and traces the outline of his shadow onto the wall of her home. This tale resonated strongly with my thesis topic The Housing of Loss, where I was researching images of loss and mourning in the context of domestic space. So, when thinking about work for The Country Show, I realized there had been a connection all along between my recent interest in the silhouette and some of my very early icing works, where I imitated the look of cameos. One such piece from 1996 was called Wild at Heart, where I iced rawhide biscuits with cameos of different dog breeds (once again, this was made for a thematic exhibition, that time in an old pet store). Basically, the iced silhouettes on biscuits just seemed so obvious, bringing together a whole lot of my interests and references in a simple, light-hearted way. I do consider them part of The Shadow of Love series, though more as a kind of complement (side dish?) to the major drawing works.

What is the art scene like in Australia? That’s really hard to answer! I’ve been practising as an artist for over 20 years, but I’ve primarily shown in artist-run and non-commercial art spaces, and I don’t live in a large city, so I can really only speak from this ‘peripheral’ experience. I don’t believe there’s any singular ‘scene’ or ‘art world’, but multiple ones that intersect at many levels internationally, nationally and locally. Even the local ‘scene’ that I know best consists of many diverse artist types, and we all engage with the ‘art world’ in very different ways, with very different outcomes or levels of ‘success’. But all the artists I know are hardworking and dedicated. And we all struggle, regardless of our respective profiles or positions. I suspect it’s much the same all over the (western) world. Favorite drink? Tea. I drink about six cups a day – weak, milky, no sugar, preferably loose leaf.

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Angel, 2008, from The Shadow of Love series, colour pencil on textured wa llpaper, mounted on ragboard, 50.5 x 40.5cm

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Honey, 2008, from The Shadow of Love series, colour pencil on textured wa llpaper, mounted on ragboard, 50.5 x 40.5cm

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Sweetheart, 2008, from The Shadow of Love series, colour pencil on textured wa llpaper, mounted on ragboard, 50.5 x 40.5cm

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Baby, 2008, from The Shadow of Love series, colour pencil on textured wa llpaper, mounted on ragboard, 50.5 x 40.5cm

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Princess, 2008, from The Shadow of Love series, colour pencil on textured wa llpaper, mounted on ragboard, 50.5 x 40.5cm

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Dear, 2008, from The Shadow of Love series, colour pencil on textured wa llpaper, mounted on ragboard, 50.5 x 40.5cm

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Cast 194, 2008, from the Cast series, colour pencil on paper, 22.5 x 22.5cm

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Cast 190, 2008, from the Cast series, colour pencil on paper, 22.5 x 22.5cm

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Heitor maGno --

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Light Leaks series

Heitor Magno is a visual artist from Brazil that works in various mediums, from painting to films, and photo manipulations. The Brazilian wonder does an amazing job capturing and manipulating/ editing these interesting photographs.

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ISSU E 12 CoM I NG 6/2013 w w w.vhcle.com

Vhcle Issue 11  

ISSUE 11 -- ‘Comfort Zone’ – Is it There for a reason? / Vhcle Books: Editorial Essay, Big Ray, Moby Dick, Master and Commander / Vhcle Pick...

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