Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reading about Books and Watchmen

One of the books I've read recently, Nick Hornby's The Polysyllabic Spree, is a collection of columns from The Believer magazine based in San Francisco at 826 Valencia. The British writer Hornby is the author of modern classic novels like High Fidelity and the memoir Fever Pitch, about his experiences as a fan of the English football (soccer) team Arsenal. In the articles Hornby writes about the books he's been reading and how his choices relate to his life.

I also read Watchmen, the graphic novel in twelve parts written by Alan Moore, drawn by Dave Gibbons and colored by John Higgins. The comic books were first published in 1986-1987, and portray an alternate version of Earth in 1985 where superheroes fought crime but were mostly forced by the government to retire. Since its publication, Watchmen has been called one of the 100 greatest novels of the 20th century by Time magazine. It certainly lives up to the acclaim, being a complex and fascinating narrative that comments on the legends of comic book superheroes as well as popular culture and relationships between individuals and nations.

I started hearing more about Watchmen because of the film version set for release in 2009. The themes of the book are just as relevant today, with all the conflict around the world. In Watchmen there is the added variable of a powerful being, Dr. Manhattan, who has advanced technology in cooperation with the American government but increased mistrust with Russia. The book begins with narration from the journal of the mysterious masked vigilante Rorschach while police investigate the murder of the Comedian. Watchmen investigates the psychology of the characters and what made them become superheroes, as well as their interactions with everyday people.

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