Building Stories, Chris Ware

I really hope this counts, because technically it is a graphic novel. However, it is a 2oo page opus that took over a decade for the author to write. Within the board game like box is 14 different pieces:  foldouts, a little golden type book, newspaper and flip books etc. It’s a collectible art piece. I would be hesitant to lend it out, in fear of losing something.

The stories revolve around the tenants in an old apartment building. Many times you are observing people performing everyday tasks, but sprinkled among these pedestrian times are moments of humour, tragedy, joy and hope. In fact, this book not only has humans as characters, but the building is a character (with a point of view). One of my favourite characters was in fact a bee named Branford.

I enjoyed Branford’s internal struggle to stay faithful to his wife, Betty (who grows more deaf and blind by the day), while trying to ignore his biological urge to impregnate the queen bee with his endophallus. He also has an existential crisis while trying to navigate his way out of an abyss. (Note: In reality the abyss is just a pop can) He even has to deal with gender issues! Man, no species is safe!

What I think I enjoy most about the Building Stories experience is that there is no right or wrong way to approach it. You can start reading any piece at any point in time. That means everyone will have a completely different experience with it. After reading different pieces, Person A may reprobate one character’s actions, but Person B may know their back-story, so has empathy. It all depends on what you decide to read first. In some ways, I think this mimics life.

endophallus (n): The inner wall of the penis of a male insect. The endophallus is flexible and eversible, is the true intromittent organ, and may be armed with backward-directed teeth or spines which gain purchase on the vaginal walls of the female.

“Branford should think a little more with his brain and a little less with his endophallus, perhaps then he wouldn’t get lost so much.”

reprobate (n): a person who behaves in a morally wrong way, (adj) unprincipled, (v) express or feel disapproval of

“Maybe I should know the whole story, before I decide to reprobate him/her.”

buildingstories

Books Read: 2

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