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Building Stories by Chris Ware

Building Stories (2012)

by Chris Ware

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7083520,577 (4.42)94
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.
Recently added byKurtWombat, private library, thatsalma, K_R_Smith, pzimmermann, beadgirlj, jennparm, alyssajp
  1. 01
    Shoplifter by Michael Cho (sweetiegherkin)
    sweetiegherkin: Both are graphic novels (although Building Stories is a more complex with its multiple parts) with female protagonists who feel lonely and isolated. Both are imbued with a sense of pathos, although Shoplifter has a more optimistic ending and bits of humor throughout than does Building Stories, whereas the latter has a larger scope in its storytelling, following the protagonist for a longer period of time.… (more)

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Great for those who like: character-driven stories, ambiguous endings (and beginnings), memorable reading experiences. ( )
  alyssajp | Jul 29, 2019 |
I didn't know what to expect as I opened the box ... but the cumulative effect of the story I built will stay with me. The play on perspectives and glimpses of people's lives is thought provoking and the illustrations are beautiful. Sweet Bitter Sweet. ( )
  allriledup | Aug 11, 2018 |
Chris Ware's latest "book" is a unique object: a box of 14 mini-books of all different formats, from hardbound "comics" to enormous, sprawling poster-stories. His art is as good as it's ever been. It's surgically precise, stunning, and recognizable as nobody else's but his.

However, narratively, he has entered the darkest, muddiest part of his career. Building Stories is highly depressing even when compared to Ware's other work. Every story, every character, every situation in it is a study in failure, sadness, guilt, hate, disappointment, and misery. The total effect is a claustrophobic, suffocating misanthropy that amounts to pure abuse of the reader.

Previously, Ware's anhedonia has been channeled into genuinely interesting, provoking tales, as in ACME #19. Here, the setting and the characters are as plain as you can imagine. In fact you don't have to do much imagining at all: they're you, the modern, 2012 you—nailed with uncanny precision. Except it is the dark core of you: every negative, uncomfortable, self-hating moment lined up into a set of panels, with all the stuff that makes life living carefully removed (except when it is put on the butchering table to be mocked).

It's pointless for anyone to say what anyone else *should* be writing about, especially when it is written and visually composed as skillfully as it is here. But whether there's a point to it or not, I can't help saying that Chris Ware seriously needs to find a new set of stories to write.

4 stars because the art deserves every star there is. ( )
1 vote mrgan | Oct 30, 2017 |
Experimental fiction at its best ( )
  trulsharry | Sep 13, 2017 |
This was a really cool idea for a book. It is told in pieces sort of comic boom style and you can read the pieces in any order and still understand the story by the time you get to the end. I enjoyed this experience a lot. The only difficult thing was not being able to carry it around to read on the train or elsewhere; I pretty much had to read it at home. I could have grabbed individual pieces to being with me, but I would fear damaging the pages that way. I recommend this for any book lover. ( )
  ktlavender | Jul 17, 2017 |
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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)
For Marnie, Clara and Mom.
First words
Second picture strip: "I don't care.  I just don't care."
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?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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]
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