■ High-Rise (J.G. Ballard; 1975 (2012 reprint). 208 pages. Fiction.)
First published thirty years ago, High-Rise is a slick, smart dystopian parable. Most people are familiar with Ballard’s Empire of the Sun (which was adapted by Spielberg into a film of the same title), but it’s his novels that earned him the adjective “Ballardian.” I liked this brisk work; it felt a bit like Lord of the Flies peopled by suburban adults.
■ The Martian (Andy Weir; 2014. 384 pages. Fiction.)
I’m not sure I can lend anything original to the general love heaped on Weir’s book. It’s certainly great fun, and we’re looking forward to seeing the movie.
■ Killing and Dying (Adrian Tomine; 2015. 160 pages. Graphic Fiction.)
If you’re not already a fan of graphic works, I entreat you to set aside any misgivings and/or preconceptions you may have and get a copy of this book now. Yes, this is a well drawn collection; Tomine effortlessly demonstrates what the genre can achieve in capable hands. But more importantly, it is a terrifically told collection, one that elicits involuntary gasps when it reminds us — as the best fiction will — that stories often reveal far greater truths that non-fiction ever could. Tomine demonstrates absolute mastery of the short story form with this work.
■ The Empty, Volume 1 (Jimmie Robinson; 2015. Graphic Fiction.)
The art was quite beautiful, actually, but the narrative was… “gappy,” for lack of a better word. More, the abrupt resolution makes me wonder if there will even be a Volume 2.
■ Descender, Volume 1: Tin Stars (Jeff Lemire; 2015. 160 pages. Graphic Fiction.)
Sweet Tooth was my introduction to Lemire, and I greatly admired that series. Descender, which is obviously inspired in part by Iron Giant, Battlestar Galactica, and A.I., is promising.
■ 1984 (George Orwell; 1949 (1961 ed.). 328 pages. Fiction.)
A re-read in anticipation of the Steppenwolf production.
■ Agamemnon (Aeschylus; 458 B.C.E. (1984 ed.). 340 pages. Drama.)
In anticipation of the Court Theatre production.
■ A Head Full of Ghosts (Paul Tremblay; 2015. 304 pages. Fiction.)
Although I am only 65 pages in, I can already assure you this will be one of my favorite books of the year. What a splendidly well written piece of horror / psychological thriller fiction.