book review: the underwater welder

The Underwater Welder is Jeff Lemire’s story of being scared of becoming a father. It’s so good. The introduction to the book sets it up as “the greatest Twilight Zone episode that was never produced.” I like that conceit but that makes it sound a lot more self-contained than it was.

Jack and Susan are expecting a baby in the next month. Jack keeps running off to his work on the oil rig, as an underwater welder. We know something bad happened between him and his father at Halloween some year, and it’s keeping him attached to the loneliness of solitary work in the ocean instead of the flesh and blood people surrounding him. It’s an ominous and looming kind of story that pushed in on my chest as I read it.

Lemire draws the book with the same kind of scratchy style he used in Essex County, but here it feels different. Maybe it’s just all the water that makes the wobbly lines feel like they’re the distortions of seeing everything through bubbles. The big splash pages work very well, especially the ones with the floods of memories coming in like clouds of angular bubbles.

It’s a beautifully done book. Highly recommended.

book review: rite

I hadn’t read any Tad Williams (though Ivy’s recommended him) until a friend lent me this collection of short stories, Rite. Evidently he’s more of a fantasy author than SciFi which doesn’t bother me. I think my problem with this book was the introductions to each story. I found them annoying and filled with “Aren’t I so clever” type stuff. Which kind of put me off the stories. Also I found that almost every story was just way too long for what it did. Williams talked in one of the introductions about loving language and that’s why he writes, which is fine, but few of the stories really felt like they’d been pruned down to the necessary.

That’s not to say I didn’t like anything about it. The Dark Destructor story was good. I kind of liked the airplane story, it had a good Twilight Zone feel to it. The unicorn story was good. But the Otherland story annoyed me with its fake swearing; the Elric stories weren’t as funny as he thought they were; and the vampire story was too long and he shouldn’t have told the readers it was supposed to be French crusaders because you could see the hasty paint-over job done to make them 13th century Arabs (and it was too long).