A Graphic Novel from Neil Gaiman, Connie Willis is Right Again and A Hurricane Disappoints

The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch

I read a small graphic novel this week that I really enjoyed. It's by Neil Gaiman with art by Michael Zulli and lettering by the ever wonderful Todd Klein, both of whom worked with Neil on Sandman. It's called The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch and it's a fantasy story set in the very real world.

It begins with Neil and his real life friends Jonathan and Jane having dinner in a sushi restaurant while discussing a mystery involving a woman they're calling Miss Finch (not her real name.) Most of the rest of the story is told in flashback and is about their evening, which takes place at a creepy little circus that struck me as fan fiction inspired by the vampire theater in Interview with a Vampire. Which is not to say that Neil wrote it as fan fic, but that the characters had read the book and were inspired to put on their own rendition, mixing it with those awful hell houses that certain Christians like to put on every Halloween. If you think that sounds like a match made in hell, you're absolutely correct.

The book is filled with both beautiful and grotesque images, some of which I couldn’t look at for more than a second. It's an adaptation of the short story by the same name and is mysterious and magical. You should enjoy the book even if, or maybe especially if, you've read the short story.

Problem Dog
Are you watching Breaking Bad? It's consistently great television that has kept intense dramatic tension at a peak for season after season. This year's offerings are no different and I suspect actor Aaron Paul will be up for some tasty awards for his portrayal of troubled meth addict/dealer Jessie Pinkman. His acting in the episode Problem Dog is utterly compelling and he looks as though his mental turmoil is making him physically ill.

His speech about the problem dog illustrates something the fabulous Connie Willis told me when I met her a few years ago: people will forgive you for almost anything in fiction but they won't forgive you killing a dog. Don't do it.

The creators of Breaking Bad are doing an excellent job making Walter White a thoroughly unlikable figure. Whatever compassion I had for him went out the window with his "I'm the one knocking" speech. Jesse is obviously on a self destructive path, unable to live with his past actions, but I wonder if Walter is also suffering, in a quieter, less flamboyant way. I'm curious and nervous to see what the rest of the season brings.

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is from Julia Wertz, who writes about her own personal experiences as a New Yorker during hurricane Irene. http://www.juliawertz.com/2011/09/05/hurricane/ She does an amazing job summing all the conflicting weird emotions that come with expecting something big and scary that turns out to be not so big and scary (although it was pretty awful for many people, she's just talking about her own personal experience.)