The New York Times - Notable Books of 2012


Building Stories (2012)

Written by Chris Ware

Everything you need to read the new graphic novel Building Stories: 14 distinctively discrete Books, Booklets, Magazines, Newspapers, and Pamphlets.

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). (Copyright © Pantheon/Random House. All rights reserved.)

Source:  Penguin Random House Company.

Chris Ware was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1967. He moved to San Antonio Texas at 16 and went to the University of Texas in Austin. There he began publishing a weekly strip in the local paper. Art Spiegelman saw his strip and called the sophomore and gave the unknown cartoonist 4 pages of RAW. He moved to Chicago in the early 90s and began publishing in the pages of The Chicago alt weekly New City the strip known as The Acme Novelty Library (the series is available from Fantagraphics). This critically acclaimed strip, which won several comics awards during the 1990s, is where Chris honed his distinctive style.

From this strip emerged the graphic novel, Jimmy Corrigan - the Smartest Kid on Earth (Pantheon Books, 2000) which received the Guardian First Book Award in 2001and the American Book Award in 2000 and the prestigious French comics award "L'Alph Art" award in 2003.

He has guest-edited McSweeney's Quarterly Concern and Houghton-Mifflin's Best American Comics, and was the first cartoonist chosen to regularly serialize an ongoing story in The New York Times Magazine. A semi-regular contributor to the New Yorker, his work was included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial, was favored with an exhibit of its own at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in 2006, and will be exhibited at the Gävle Konstcentrum in Gävle, Sweden, in 2010.

Ware lives in the Chicago area with his wife Marnie and their daughter Clara.


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