Gun Work – David J. Schow 2008
Complete with a wonderfully sexy, lurid cover that hearkens back to the old pulp-fiction days, Gun Work reads like a Tarantino script, without most of the snappy pop-culture-referenced dialogue. There is no real need for a lot of witty banter between characters, when it’s clearly all about the guns – even the protagonist, Barney, is completely without description, as befitting a man who is merely (and completely) the gunman. There is never any doubt that Barney is anything but an instrument, the human extension required to employ his weapons of choice. In a slightly flimsy plot (it doesn’t need to be solid, remember), our expert gunman is employed by a friend to help out with a dangerous situation in Mexico, only to find that he has been framed by his supposed amigo and subsequently caught up in a twisted kidnapping ring. Excruciatingly graphic torture scenes and a brutally murderous undertaking to exact revenge follow, and if you can’t stand the heat, get out. This isn’t a book for the faint of heart, but the delicious use of language and tight, dexterous writing renders it an excellent read.
Griffin and Sabine – Nick Bantock 1991
Sabine’s Notebook – Nick Bantock 1992
The Golden Mean – Nick Bantock 1993
The Gryphon – Nick Bantock 2001
Alexandria – Nick Bantock 2002
The Morning Star – Nick Bantock 2003
The Griffin and Sabine series are not novels, in the strict sense; the reader cannot pick up one in the middle of the pack and understand a whit of what is going on. And…they’re picture books, with stunningly lavish artwork so detailed and sumptuous that it is often difficult to see and appreciate all of it. Taken together, they form a monumental story about the nature of self and love, drawing heavily on mythology and poetry. Told through the exchange of correspondence, first between the artist Griffin and his muse (?) Sabine, and later between the long-distance lovers Isabella and Matthew, the books are composed of pages of postcards and even notes encased in envelopes that the reader has to pull out and read. The way the books are constructed force the reader into a voyeuristic role, delving into the most intimate details of both couples’ relationships and the reasons why their lives are entwined. Enshrouded in mystery and magic, the story leaves many questions unanswered, but with art and writing this beautiful, it doesn’t matter. The reader’s imagination can fill in the rest.