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Building Stories by Chris Ware
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Building Stories (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Chris Ware

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5062520,102 (4.37)90
Member:edgewood
Title:Building Stories
Authors:Chris Ware
Info:Pantheon (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover
Collections:Your library, Read 2012
Rating:*****
Tags:comics

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Building Stories by Chris Ware (2012)

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English (24)  Dutch (1)  All languages (25)
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
In a large box, itself a witty graphic work of art, the reader discovers 14 discrete graphic publications ranging from books to folded “strips”. Everything, as billed, that the reader might need for building stories. This is Chris Ware at his finest, challenging the very form of the graphic novel perhaps to breaking point. There is no set route through the items contained in the box. The reader could choose any order. But of course there is a linear progression for many of the works since they follow a woman from youth to lonely adulthood, marriage, and motherhood. Other items concentrate on Brandford, The Bee. But all of them intersect at points and nothing is entirely isolated. And that might be Chris Ware’s overall theme, since the loneliness and self-loathing that the main character experiences are self-inflicted. Connectedness comes in many forms. And even when we feel most isolated and alone, one step back reveals an intricate pattern of lines linking, waxing and waning perhaps but still connecting, each of us to a host of others. It’s almost as though we can’t help building stories.

Of course this being a Chris Ware work, you also expect punning turns. And sure enough, at least some of the publications focus instead on the building in which the main character lives for a time.That building itself has an architectural and a social history and the story it could tell about life in Chicago over the course of a century would be just as fascinating, perhaps, as any story that focused on one of its inhabitants. But here too connectedness to a wider frame — the social architecture of an American century — draws our building into the lives of its inhabitants.

The tone across these works is nostalgic but melancholic. And although there are bright moments, even hopefulness, there are an equal number of dark moments and despair. What can’t be ignored, however, is the sheer audacity of producing such an artwork in an age of disposable literature and incorporeal “e”-books. Chris Ware and his publishers have re-established the necessity of physical publication and reconfirmed the notion that great literature is a treasure worthy of indefinite shelf life. But you’ll need an awfully big shelf for this box of wonders. Recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | May 7, 2015 |
Graphic novel. Really great interview on "All Things Considered" Weekends. ( )
  clifforddham | Apr 26, 2015 |
Wonderfully drawn and poignant, albeit inconclusive and very depressing. ( )
  dazzyj | Jan 1, 2015 |
Inventive story telling. Very heavy material. Good read for something different. ( )
  fighterofevil | Aug 26, 2014 |
Great read. Really. ( )
  maartekes | Jan 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
I don't want to give the impression that Building Stories is without its faults. On a practical level, older – ahem – comic lovers will sometimes struggle to read Ware's miniature writing, and I must be honest and say that I would rather have been told the best order in which to read its sections (there certainly is one, and I think it's pointless to pretend otherwise). Confusion about past and present sometimes distracts from the deep pleasures of the crammed page. But still, this is a wonderful achievement. It's not only that it is so beautifully and attentively made – though in the age of the Kindle, and of all things disposable, Ware is certainly making a powerful statement. No, it's the sense of belief that gets to you, the absolute commitment to the form. Building Stories does things no traditional novel can, or not without much lumbering effort; and it does other things no comic has hitherto pulled off. No wonder, then, that opening it for the first time makes you feel like a child at Christmas. It's a thing to be treasured, a box of delights.
added by peterbrown | editThe Observer, Rachel Cooke (Oct 21, 2012)
 
Like everything else here, it’s also slow, demanding and melancholy. Ware has earned the right to make demands of his readers, though. He’s built a whole microcosm in this box, over the course of more than a decade. You have to play by his rules to perceive its complicated splendor, or find yourself like Branford the bee, stuck behind a pane of “hard air” and unable to reach the flower beyond it.
 
There's nobody else doing anything in this medium that remotely approaches Ware for originality, plangency, complexity and exactitude. Astonishment is an entirely appropriate response.
added by peterbrown | editThe Guardian, Sam Leith (Sep 21, 2012)
 
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Epigraph
Don't forget to go outside of the house once in a while or you'll lose your source of pollination.

-Clara Louise Ware (1905 - 1990)
Everything you can imagine is real.

- Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973)
Dedication
For Marnie, Clara and Mom.
First words
Second picture strip: "I don't care.  I just don't care."
Quotations
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are employed deceptively.  Any resemblance to actual living, dead or insensate persons, events municipalities, locales, historical figures, emotions, sensations or unnameable poetic impressions is entirely coincidental, or at least not deliberately intended to catalyze litigation.

(Printed inside the cover of the box)
I already felt like a statue that'd stood in one place for too long, blackened by time, passers-by not even looking up at me or remembering why I was there ...
They all felt behind me, anyway, a past I was no longer a part of ... and what did I have to look forward to?
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English

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Book description
In Chris Ware's own words, 'Building Stories follows the inhabitants of a three-flat Chicago apartment house: a thirty-year-old woman who has yet to find someone with whom to spend the rest of her life; a couple who wonder if they can bear each other's company for another minute; and finally an elderly woman who never married and is the building's landlady...'

The scope, the ambition, the artistry and emotional heft of this project are beyond anything even Chris Ware has achieved before. [Amazon.co.uk]
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375424334, Hardcover)


Featured Pages from Building Stories

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(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:11 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Presents an illustrated tale, told in various books and folded sheets, about the residents in a three-story Chicago apartment building, including a lonely single woman, a couple who are growing to despise each other, and an elderly landlady.

(summary from another edition)

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