Photo Prompt

Daily Photo — “Spanish Flu Family Portrait”, 1920s

Photo — “Spanish Flu Family Portrait, c.1920”

Use the photos posted in this feature for writing prompts, warm-up activities, drawing templates or as part of a photo analysis.

Social distancing notwithstanding, the use of face masks to combat Spanish flu was as important 100 years ago as it is today with COVID-19! (Even the family cat is protected!)

Circa 1920. “Flu epidemic.” Images of America : Dublin, by Mike Lynch and the Dublin Heritage Center. Collection of the Online Archive of California. 

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(Source)
February 2020, Fiction, Graphic Novel

The House by Paco Roca

The House by Paco Roca. November 5, 2019. Fantagraphics Books, 127 p. ISBN: 9781683962632.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

In this graphic novel by the internationally acclaimed, award-winning Wrinkles cartoonist, three adult siblings relive old conflicts as they clear out the family vacation home after their father’s death.

The graphic novel The House is at once deeply personal (dedicated to Roca’s own deceased father) and entirely universal. Three adult siblings return to their family’s vacation home a year after their father’s death. They each bring their respective wives, husbands, and children with the intention to clean up the residence and put it on the market. But, as garbage is hauled off and dust is wiped away, decades-old resentments quickly fill the vacant home. Roca asks what happens to brothers and sisters when the only person holding the family together is now gone. Full-color illustrations throughout

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2020 (Online))
Award-winning Spanish comic book creator Roca draws the story of three adult siblings reuniting following their father’s death. Coming together at their childhood country home, they find much of the house unkempt and in need of repair as they reminisce about their father’s DIY-style. The upkeep of the premises has always been demanding, and now the distractions of work and new families regularly keep them away. However, the idea of selling the home threatens to erase part of their father’s legacy and they struggle with the decision. The full-color drawings are professional and conscientious, but the storyline fails to achieve any major climactic action. Between flashbacks and visits from a elderly neighbor, the reader gets a sense of authenticity from the narrative, yet few lessons are learned aside from the fact that death is difficult in the best of circumstances. Though the audience for this title will likely be small, the work’s sincerity and artful drawings should have special appeal for adult readers mourning their parents. A simultaneously released Spanish-language version is also available.

Library Journal (December 1, 2019)
Following the death of their father, a trio of siblings converges upon their family’s decaying vacation house in order to prepare it for sale. As they clear the yard, restore crumbling walls, and repair leaky pipes, José ponders whether their father was proud of his professional accomplishments, Carla laments that he died before getting to spend much time with her daughter, and oldest son Vicente struggles with whether he made the right choice when he decided not to have him resuscitated on his deathbed. A mildewed swimming pool, a hastily assembled pergola, and orange and almond trees all serve as triggers for memories of the energetic, inventive man their father was in his youth and the depressive loner he became in his declining years, leading the siblings to wonder if selling the property will sever their connection to their father, and one another, forever. VERDICT Celebrated Spanish creator Roca’s (Twist of Fate) cartoonishly drawn characters are juxtaposed against highly detailed backgrounds, showcasing the strange dislocation they feel inhabiting a space that ought to feel much more like home in this melancholy and deeply sympathetic meditation on sibling dynamics and the role memory plays in the grieving process

About the Author

Paco Roca (Francisco Martínez Roca) is a graphic artist and a cartoonist from Valencia, Spain, who has won several art/writing awards. His graphic novel Wrinkles has been adapted into an animated movie.

His website is www.pacoroca.com.

Around the Web

The House on Amazon

The House on Barnes and Noble

The House on Goodreads

The House on LibraryThing

The House Publisher Page

Fiction, January 2020

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher. October 1, 2019. Saga Press, 399 p. ISBN: 9781534429574.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

When a young woman clears out her deceased grandmother’s home in rural North Carolina, she finds long-hidden secrets about a strange colony of beings in the woods in this chilling novel that reads like The Blair Witch Project meets The Andy Griffith Show.

When Mouse’s dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother’s house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?

Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there’s more—Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather’s journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants…until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.

Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face with a series of impossible terrors—because sometimes the things that go bump in the night are real, and they’re looking for you. And if she doesn’t face them head on, she might not survive to tell the tale.

From Hugo Award–winning author Ursula Vernon, writing as T. Kingfisher, The Twisted Ones is a gripping, terrifying tale bound to keep you up all night—from both fear and anticipation of what happens next.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Cruelty to animals, Strong language, Violence

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist (September 15, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 2))
Mouse goes to rural North Carolina to clean out her dead grandmother’s house, finding an unsettling, hoarder mess. Amidst the garbage, she finds her step-grandfather’s journal, which describes horrors in terrifying detail, and which Mouse and her dog also begin to experience. Told with a “found book” frame and an intense first person narration, this folk horror novel begins with the unease of Mouse telling readers how her life was forever tainted by the experience she is about to recount. The tale is as tightly twisted and menacing as the carvings she finds in the woods. Readers will stand back in awe as it all unravels, slowly at first, and then with great and terrifying speed. This is a modern retelling of Arthur Machen’s seminal weird fiction tale, “The White People,” a story that greatly influenced H.P. Lovecraft, but readers won’t need that context to enjoy The Twisted Ones. Kingfisher brings this brand of horror to a new generation, and the book will appeal to readers of Lovecraftian adaptations by Caitlin Keirnan, Matt Ruff, and Paul La Farge.

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2019)
A woman realizes she’s not alone while cleaning out her late grandmother’s remote North Carolina home. Freelance book editor Melissa, aka “Mouse,” can’t say no to her father when he asks her to clear out her grandmother’s house. Unfortunately, the house, which has been locked up for two years, is a hoarder’s paradise, but Mouse digs in with her beloved coonhound, Bongo, at her side. One day bleeds into another as she hauls junk to the nearby dump and makes friends with her kind and quirky neighbors, Foxy, Tomas, and Skip. When she finds a journal belonging to her stepgrandfather Frederick Cotgrave, things get creepy. The prose sounds like the ravings of a man unhappy in his marriage to a woman who wasn’t a very nice person, but the mention of something called the Green Book is intriguing, and the line “I twisted myself about like the twisted ones” gives Mouse the chills. While walking Bongo in the woods, Mouse stumbles on a strange gathering of stones on top of a hill that shouldn’t exist. After discovering a gruesome deer effigy hanging in the woods, Mouse confides in Foxy, who tells a few strange tales of her own. Something is lurking just outside Mouse’s house, and that effigy isn’t of this world, but just when she’s ready to leave, Bongo disappears. And Mouse isn’t going anywhere without Bongo. Kingfisher effortlessly entwines an atmospheric and spooky “deep dark woods” tale with ancient folklore and pulls off more than a few very effective scares. Mouse is a highly relatable and frequently funny narrator who is also refreshingly willing to believe her own eyes. The charming supporting cast is a bonus, especially the glamorous, 60-something Foxy, who goes above and beyond the call of duty to help Mouse when she needs it most. Read this one with the lights on.

About the Author

T. Kingfisher, also known as Ursula Vernon, is the author and illustrator of many projects, including the webcomic “Digger,” which won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story and the Mythopoeic Award. Her novelette “The Tomato Thief” won the Hugo Award for Best Novelette, and her short story “Jackalope Wives” won the Nebula Award for Best Story. She is also the author of the bestselling Dragonbreath, and the Hamster Princess series of books for children.

Her website is ursulavernon.com

Around the Web

The Twisted Ones on Amazon

The Twisted Ones on Barnes and Noble

The Twisted Ones on Goodreads

The Twisted Ones on LibraryThing

The Twisted Ones Publisher Page

Artwork

Daily Art – The Family, Paula Rego

Daily Artwork — “The Family, Paula Rego, 1988”

Use the images posted in this feature for writing prompts, warm-up activities, drawing templates or as part of an artwork critique.

1988 — The Family. Oil on Canvas. Expressionism style. Paula Rego (1935 – ) Saatchi Gallery, London, UK.

In The Family the absent father and husband returns to the picture plane, only to be manhandled by his daughter and his wife. As usual, the narrative clues are ambiguous, and the story could have several endings. (Wikipaintings)

 Click image to enlarge