Monday, May 14, 2007

Tehran in pictures...

Totally NOT book related, but Bebel Gilberto's new CD, Momento, is fan-freaking-tastic. It's her best to date and if you like chill modern bossa nova Brazilian rthyms, you need to check it out.

Next up on the biography front, we have Marjane Satrapi's graphic autobiographies.

And I mean "graphic" and the graphic novel sense, not in the lots of nekkid people and blood 'n' guts sense.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood is a wonderful graphic novel about growing up in Iran during the revolution. Growing up in a radical family descended from the royal family, Satrapi and her parents initially support the revolution to over throw the Shah. Of course, revolutions can go astray and what they originally demonstrated for and supported turned into religious fundamentalism they couldn't stomach.

As if that weren't enough, the Iran-Iraq war bring new horrors as Tehran is continually bombed and friends are killed.

Satrapi paints her world and life with people who are real and sympathetic--something we don't often see in Western views and stories on Iran. It also fills in the shades of gray on a country and issue so often portrayed in black and white.

Satrapi's art is black and white, which large blocks of black fill, leaving a minimilist, stark image. Her writing perfectly captures how she felt as a child. Despite the bleakness surrounding her, Satrapi maintains humor and minor acts of rebellion that make us love her.

She follows up with Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return. This traces her life in Vienna, trying to fit into a new culture and language. She mentions her experiences with racism, but tends not to dwell on them, making them all the more poignant, because they just jump out at you and then disappear, much like, I imagine, the actual acts themselves. About halfway through the novel, she returns to Tehran. In Austria, she was too Iranian. In Iran, she's too Western. Her struggle to fit in both places is heart breaking. If you liked the first one, you have to read this one.

Because I'm rambling about Satrapi, I also read her book Embroideries. This is just an after-dinner conversation with Iranian women (mostly her mother or grandmother's age) talking about their sex lives-- a nice little companion to her other work. This is a fun look at how even under the veil, people and sex aren't that different the world over. (The title comes from the re-virginization procedure.)

So, this has been an adult-like few posts. Here's some kidlit content for y'all:

The new issue of The Edge of the Forest is up and I have a review of The Whole Sky Full of Stars, which is YA.

Also, I'm rambling about Harry Potter over at Geek Buffet.

OH! And I'm looking for recommendations of publishing blogs, so let me have 'em!

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