The Pigeon’s Picks

More Pigeon’s Picks coming at you. I’m sitting here trying to write a clever intro, but you know what? Nobody cares about the intro when there’s such a bounty of literary riches to share. Let’s get to the good stuff.

Lucas: The Marx Family Saga by Juan Goytisolo – I could probably read about paint drying if the prose was good enough (I’m looking at you, Mr. Beckett), but the woes of the Spanish upper class under Franco were enough to make me abandon Juan Goytisolo’s Marks of Identity several years ago. Given his reputation as the most important living writer working in Spanish and his perennial presence on the list of Nobel contenders, however, I (wisely) decided to give him another chance. The Marx Family Saga (available in English from City Lights in a translation by Peter Bush) resurrects Karl and family circa 1993, offering the reader a tongue-in-cheek account of their reaction to the fall of Communism throughout Europe a few years prior. Goytisolo’s peculiar style (similar in a lot of ways to fellow Iberian Antonio Lobo Antunes) makes sparing use of capitalization, punctuation, and all that other stuff you thought you needed to make a sentence. The mark of a Serious Writer, surely. There’s even a section of the book where the Author argues with his Publisher over why he insists on these stylistic tics. Goytisolo constantly runs the risk of being too clever for his own good, but the thing is, he kind of is that clever. He totally pulls it off, with an opening scene that has to be among the best I’ve ever read. Recommended, to put it mildly.

Jason: Amsterdam Stories by Nescio. Picked this one up at one of the Harvard Bookstore’s warehouse sales a few months ago. Finally started it earlier this week and the first story was a funny, meandering piece about friendship dynamics as a group of artists/writers interacts with a freeloader and the calm existential questions that drive him to avoid work in favor of eating his friends’ food, drinking their beer, smoking their cigarettes, and aimlessly traveling around the country to stare at the horizon and follow other mysterious whims the narrator never figures out. I was struck by how timeless it reads given that it was written in 1910. Great stuff so far.

Tim: Gotham Academy, written by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher, art by Karl Kerschl. A YA prep-school comic set in the Batman universe? Yes, and it’s just plain great. The art is fantastic, it’s got a real sense of style that’s all its own, the characters are fun and conflicted, and it’s got interesting plot twists that I’m actually anxious about. Issue #4 just came out this week.