With the increasing electronic incorporeality of existence, sometimes it’s reassuring—perhaps even necessary—to have something to hold on to. Thus within this colorful keepsake box the purchaser will find a fully-apportioned variety of reading material ready to address virtually any imaginable artistic or poetic taste, from the corrosive sarcasm of youth to the sickening earnestness of maturity—while discovering a protagonist wondering if she’ll ever move from the rented close quarters of lonely young adulthood to the mortgaged expanse of love and marriage. Whether you’re feeling alone by yourself or alone with someone else, this book is sure to sympathize with the crushing sense of life wasted, opportunities missed and creative dreams dashed which afflict the middle- and upper-class literary public (and which can return to them in somewhat damaged form during REM sleep).
A pictographic listing of all 14 items (260 pages total) appears on the back, with suggestions made as to appropriate places to set down, forget or completely lose any number of its contents within the walls of an average well-appointed home. As seen in the pages of The New Yorker, The New York Times and McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Building Stories collects a decade’s worth of work, with dozens of “never-before published” pages (i.e., those deemed too obtuse, filthy or just plain incoherent to offer to a respectable periodical).
About Chris Ware
CHRIS WARE is the author of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and the annual progenitor of the amateur periodical the ACME Novelty Library. An irregular contributor to The New Yorker and The Virginia Quarterly Review,Ware was the first cartoonist chosen to regularly serialize an ongoing story in The New York Times Magazine, in 2005-2006. He edited the thirteenth issue of McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern in 2004 as well as Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Comics for 2007, and his work was the focus of an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 2006. Ware lives in Oak Park, Illinois, with his wife, Marnie, a high-school science teacher, and their daughter, Clara.
At 44, Ware (The Acme Novelty Library, 2005, etc.) is old enough to remember the day when you could stick a few dollars in an envelope, send it off and have a box full of strange goodness come to your door—a mystery box, that is, with puzzles, games, gag items and maybe one or two things worth keeping. Opening the oversized box that contains the many pieces of this book is a kindred experience: It’s not quite clear what’s inside, save for brightly colored paper in various forms, from foldout poster to ultrathin, small notebook to sturdy hardcover. Each package contains a story set, as the title suggests, in or near a teeming city. How the reader reads these seems not to matter, for the box is like a river, if that’s not too mixed a metaphor, into which one steps where the current seems safest; there’s no beginning to it and no end. One thing is clear: Not many of Ware’s characters are happy, even if they live in buildings that are overstuffed, like this box, with things. One young woman, for instance, recounts, “There were whole stretches of days where I never even left the house at all…never saw or talked to another human being…I just ordered pizzas, watched TV, and read books….Of course, I went grocery shopping, and a couple of times I walked to the ‘downtown’ of the suburb and ate dinner by myself, just for variety’s sake.” That’s a humdrum existence by any measure—especially the being stuck in the suburbs part—but considering the likely fate of the little honeybee, Branford, who is the hero of one of the little books, it’s not to be dismissed. And anyway, try finding a four-room flat for $650 a month in the city these days—one in a building that, in Ware’s surreal inventory, has seen 13,246 light bulbs, 725 roasted turkeys and 158,854 lighted matches—all of which add up, one suspects, to the number of ways in which one can read this puzzling tome. – Kirkus Reviews
Inside the Box - ‘Building Stories,’ by Chris Ware
The New York Times Book Review – October 18, 2012 (Excerpt)
The most despairing image in Chris Ware’s magnificent new graphic novel, “Building Stories” — and there are plenty of candidates — depicts a dumpy middle-aged couple, naked in their bedroom. She’s just dropped her clothes to the floor; he’s lying on the bed, oblivious to her, his face and chest illuminated by the iPad propped on his belly.
You will never be able to read “Building Stories” on a digital tablet, by design. It is a physical object, printed on wood pulp, darn it. It’s a big, sturdy box, containing 14 different “easily misplaced elements” — a hard-bound volume or two, pamphlets and leaflets of various dimensions, a monstrously huge tabloid à la century-old Sunday newspaper comics sections and a folded board of the sort that might once have come with a fancy game. In which order should one read them? Whatever, Ware shrugs, uncharacteristically relinquishing his customary absolute control. In the world of “Building Stories,” linearity leads only to decay and death. [Read the full article...]
Chris Ware ups the ante with ‘Building Stories’
The Los Angeles Times Book Review – October 26, 2012 (Excerpt)
Chris Ware has been asking us to rethink comics for a long time, since his early days drawing for Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly’s RAW. He’s best known for the 2000 graphic novel “Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth,” a multilayered narrative that won several awards, as well as his ongoing comic book series the “Acme Novelty Library.”
Still, it’s no stretch to suggest that with his new work, “Building Stories,” he has upped the ante, pushing comics in a new direction while paying tribute to their history. An oversized box containing 14 related but free-standing comics, in a variety of shapes and styles, “Building Stories” is a kind of do-it-yourself narrative: a set of stories that revolve around the residents of a Chicago apartment building, and at the same time, a meditation on how stories are built. [Read the full article...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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