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Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot
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Alice in Sunderland (2007)

by Bryan Talbot

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4812221,406 (3.91)81
  1. 10
    From Hell by Alan Moore (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: ALL psychogeography should be written as graphic novels - these two show why.
  2. 10
    Lancashire, Where Women Die of Love by Charles Nevin (nessreader)
    nessreader: Both full to bursting with random and arcane details about the north of england, shared with the reader in a spirit of jingoistic glee.
  3. 10
    Automated Alice by Jeff Noon (madmarch)
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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Not an homage or a pastiche, but rather an interlacing of histories for the book, its author, and the land that inspired his masterpiece. ( )
  bensdad00 | Jan 10, 2017 |
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2710804.html

Wow. How come nobody told me about this sooner? (Well, yes, I know you told me. I should have listened.) This is a glorious exploration of the cultural history of Sunderland and its immediate vicinity, and specifically its impact on the Alice books and the other works of Lewis Carroll. Talbot makes the argument that Oxford has for too long claimed a monopoly on Alice, when in fact both Dodgson and the Liddell family had long-standing links with this part of North-East England, and there is convincing evidence that the relationship between the families, and many crucial details in the books themselves, depend crucially on the Wear estuary. Talbot presents the entire story as told by two of his own avatars to a theatre-goer, assisted by various mythic and historical figures including the ghost of Sid James, who literally died on stage in Sunderland (on my ninth birthday, I note). And there are many diversions into Talbot's own career and personal history, and into the history of comics, picking up many pleasing resonances and a number of spot-on pastiches.

I thought this was brilliant. I love deep local histories anyway - the Irish word is dinnseanchas, the lore of places - and the fact that I know very little about that part of the world possibly enhanced my enjoyment as Talbot makes his immediate geographical landscape relevant to the cultural references which I know much better. It's a little demanding in that some knowledge of Talbot's other work, and much knowledge of Lewis Carroll, is assumed, and I guess when this was first recommended to me I probably lacked the former. But I also suspect that readers who know less about the writer can skip the more Talbot-centric parts and get a lot out of the rest. ( )
  nwhyte | Dec 11, 2016 |
One word: savor. Savor this book slowly. It's only 319 pages but let every page have it's moment in time. This is a beautiful piece of art, chock full of culture, biography, history, creative use of the English language ("follow your spirit" with a picture of someone chasing a vodka truck), a comic book inside a graphic novel, brimming with literary references (Thirty-Nine Steps and Rugby, the same school made infamous by Tom Brown's Schooldays, to name a few) and much, much more. This is a comprehensive walk through history with a myriad of people and places leading the way. In Book Lust To Go Nancy Pearl called it "one of the richest experiences of her life (p 68).

The premise is really quite simple. Bryan Talbot has researched his hometown of Sunderland and found every possible parallel connection to Lewis Carroll's famed The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland. It's brilliant. ( )
1 vote SeriousGrace | Apr 11, 2016 |
Absolutely wonderful reimagining of the author's home region of England. It was also Lewis Carroll's. The author uses the idea of the White Rabbit to guide the reader through that region, its history (or is it?) and some of its most famous sites and characters both historic and fictional. There are fascinating ruminations and depictions on everything from The Venerable Beade to John Lennon . An outstanding example of what a GN can accomplish. ( )
  Kissyalicekali | Aug 3, 2013 |
A history of Sunderland that in itself involves telling of story of invasions of Britain by Celts, Romans, Saxons, Vikings and most brutal of all - the Normans. It lists trivia and achievements of antecedents of Mackham (people of Sunderland). By and large, this was also the place where Lewis Caroll's muse Alice Liddel lived and how story of 'Alice in Wonderland' evolved.

So far a very interesting read - it tells the truth about death of Sidney James onstage. Henry Irving ---

Graphic style is unconventional - a collage of sketches reproduced, reproduction of old photographs, newspaper clippings and four main character sketches. Three of the characters have been played by author himself and fourth is the pilgrim who is in theater 'Empire of Sunderland' watching the show.

There is lot of meta in the book - a comic in the comic. Pilgrim reading comic in the comic. I will come back when I finish reading the book and clean up this review.
  poonamsharma | Apr 6, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
The book is incredibly wide-ranging, from prehistory to modern art to metaphysics. Some sections are more interesting than others, but each reader’s choices will differ as to which is which. Like the weather, if you don’t like one page, just wait a bit, and it’ll change. It’s a great book to dip into and sample various sections, or to return to at different times with different interests.
 
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Epigraph
"Reality is not enough; we need nonsense too. Drifting into a world of fantasy is not an escape from reality but a significant education about the nature of life. And reality is not an escape from nonsense. Our education goes on everywhere."
Edmund Miller
Lewis Carroll Observed
Dedication
For Tabitha
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Well, there's this guy, right...
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Sunderland! Thirteen hundred years ago it was the greatest center of learning in the whole of Christendom and the very cradle of English consciousness. In the time of Lewis Carroll it was the greatest shipbuilding port in the world. To this city that gave the world the electric light bulb, the stars and stripes, the millennium, the Liberty Ships and the greatest British dragon legend came Carroll in the years preceding his most famous book, Alice in Wonderland, and here are buried the roots of his surreal masterpiece. Enter the famous Edwardian palace of varieties, The Sunderland Empire, for a unique experience: an entertaining and epic meditation on myth, history and storytelling then decide for yourself — does Sunderland really exist?
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Alice in Sunderland explores the links between Lewis Carroll and the Sunderland area, with wider themes of history, myth and storytelling-- and the truth about what happened to Sid James on stage at the Sunderland Empire.

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