Product Added : January 1st, 2013
Category : Books
"This Best Selling Building Stories Tends to SELL OUT VERY FAST! If this is a MUST HAVE product, be sure to Order Now to avoid disappointment!"
New York Times Book Review, Top 10 Books of the Year
Time Magazine, Top Ten Fiction Books of the Year
Publishers Weekly, Best Book of the Year
Kirkus Reviews, Top 10 Fiction of 2012
Newsday, Top 10 Books of 2012
Entertainment Weekly, Gift Guide, A+
Washington Post, Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2012
Minneapolis Star Tribune, Best Books of the Year
Cleveland Plain Dealer, Top 10 Fiction Books of the Year
Amazon, Best Books of the Year/Comics
Boing Boing, Best Graphic Novel of the Year
Everything you need to read the new graphic novel Building Stories: 14 distinctively discrete Books, Booklets, Magazines, Newspapers, and Pamphlets.
With the increasing electronic incorporeality of existence, sometimes it’s reassuring—perhaps even necessary—to have something to hold on to. Thus within this colorful keepsake box the purchaser will find a fully-apportioned variety of reading material ready to address virtually any imaginable artistic or poetic taste, from the corrosive sarcasm of youth to the sickening earnestness of maturity—while discovering a protagonist wondering if she’ll ever move from the rented close quarters of lonely young adulthood to the mortgaged expanse of love and marriage. Whether you’re feeling alone by yourself or alone with someone else, this book is sure to sympathize with the crushing sense of life wasted, opportunities missed and creative dreams dashed which afflict the middle- and upper-class literary public (and which can return to them in somewhat damaged form during REM sleep).
A pictographic listing of all 14 items (260 pages total) appears on the back, with suggestions made as to appropriate places to set down, forget or completely lose any number of its contents within the walls of an average well-appointed home. As seen in the pages of The New Yorker, The New York Times and McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Building Stories collects a decade’s worth of work, with dozens of “never-before-published” pages (i.e., those deemed too obtuse, filthy or just plain incoherent to offer to a respectable periodical).
I have been looking forward to Chris Ware’s newest installation for a while–ever since I picked up Jimmy Corrigan years ago. I’ve followed his Acme Novelty Library series, as well as newspaper/magazine publications when I could catch them. All these bits and pieces of Ware’s work only increased my anticipation of his next long book. Building Stories is what I had wanted, and so, so much more. I will attempt to refrain from hyperbole in this review, but if you’ve seen or read Building Stories, you already know that it’s not quite possible.
What originally captivated me about Ware’s work were his almost obsessive attention to detail, beautiful and precise artwork that didn’t look too ‘cartoonish’ (whatever that means), and the digressions from the main storyline (frequently in the form of cut-outs and paper dolls, which from what I understand are actually accurate and do function as described–such as the stereoscope and ‘library’ bookshelf; though, I could never, ever bring myself to cut up a book, let alone one of Ware’s). I can’t say that I have a great grasp of Ware’s work in the context of other graphic novels, as I have never been a particularly avid reader of the genre; however, this attests to the ability of Ware’s work to cross these well-established (and often dismissed) boundaries. To simply call Building Stories a graphic novel, a book, a novel, a comic, or really any one genre would be a great injustice that ignores what I believe a currently unparalleled form. A reader does not have to consider him or herself a fan of any of a particular genre to enjoy Building Stories; it is the story of memory, loss, trauma, and how these manifest themselves in everyday life that should draw readers into its pages. I would even say that this stands up to any work of literature, regardless of form or genre.
It’s first striking how large the box is. Immediately, it gave me an impression of its heft (both in weight and in accomplishment). Opening it is truly like being granted a secret passage into the minds and memories of the characters, and the non-linear format of the various ‘pieces’ mimics how both we and the characters access those memories. The first piece I read was a hardcover book that instantly took me back to my childhood, as it’s reminiscent of the pressed-cardboard children’s books that had a gold spine, and an inside cover with ornate illustrations of the publisher’s popular characters with a space to write your name. I can’t remember the publisher, but I know I had many books like this. This is exactly what makes Ware and Building Stories so outstanding: their ability to skillfully draw out an emotion from the reader that parallels the storyline. It does not feel like a cheap ploy of meta-fiction, which can be a danger of ‘postmodern’ fiction, but that the details are all so understated and do not scream, ‘hey, look at me! Aren’t I so clever?’ helps bring a level of sincerity and genuine connection to the whole experience. With something that could easily wander into pretension, it never seems to cross that line (however, I now must admit it seems near impossible to write a review on it without taking on this air of pretension that Ware successfully avoids, haha).
I spent several years living in Chicago, so the building and landscapes are excitingly familiar–I have a special, personal attachment to the building of Building Stories that I relish while reading. But really, it doesn’t matter where I’ve lived; as long as I (or any reader) have lived a life with love, loss, regret, loneliness and varying degrees of human interaction, Building Stories will be a work that resonates in and even echoes the hopes, dreams, fears, and banality of a life at once both extraordinary and mundane.
Reader, this “book” comes in a box 16″ long x 11 1/2″ wide x 1 5/8th” deep. For best results, approach it as follows:
Step One. Before unwrapping, turn the box over and read the text carefully. Think about it.
Step Two. Open the box, remove the fourteen items that make up its contents, place each one on the floor — most tables are not big enough — as shown in pictograph.Then…
Step 3. Read below.
Chris Ware’s new graphic novel “Building Stories” is made to order for game players with a literary bent. Call the game “Follow the Story Line – If you Can!” The author provides a pictograph on the bottom of this box full of treasureWare with, he says “suggestions as to [where] appropriately [to] set down, forget, or completely lose” its contents. Accepting the challenge, I cleared a space in my study and set about putting the pieces down as shown in the pictograph. In the process I discovered that Mr. Ware had pulled a couple of fast ones. It requires duplicates of four of the pieces to match all the images in the pictograph. Moreover, in my set, one of the pieces has no exact mate.
The story follows the protagonist from “wondering if she will ever move from the rented close quarters of lonely young adulthood to the mortgaged expanse of love and marriage”. I’ll call her “Chris” — after the author because he gives her no name. So the trick is to match the pieces of Chris’ life to its trajectory from young Chicago art student to Oak Park soccer Mom. It took a bit of doing to come up with the right order for placing the fourteen pieces in the trajectory. If you try it, leave a comment. It will be fun to see if we agree. As Ware suggests, the place to start is the book shown top left in the pictograph and the place to end is the piece titled “Disconnect” at the lower right. Among the rewards for your effort, a nice surprise as you come to the end.
What about the novel as story? Is it as good as the graphic art that has gone into it? It starts with a nice touch. The initial point of view is that of the one hundred-year-old three-story Chicago apartment building where Chris lives on the top floor. The building ticks off one interesting fact after another from its 100 year history: “301 tenants, 178 trysts, 469 feelings of being watched, 29 broken hearts” (including, one assumes, Chris’s.), 104 writers, 4 criminals” and the list goes on.
Then each of the building’s occupants has a say starting with the land lady (first floor), the unhappily married couple on the second floor and then Chris. Ware does this neatly, going from one floor’s occupants to the next as the day, September 23, 2000, goes by, clock hour by clock hour. Then, he returns to the building as narrator: “Better to take each day as it comes,” I tell myself, “and revel in the remaining time of my old woman, my married couple and my girl.” The last page fast forwards to 3.p.m. April 20th, 2006, to reveal Chris driving by with her baby daughter in the car. She notices a for sale sign in the building’s window and thinks back to her days there: “God I was so wretched and miserable when I lived there.” There are five vignettes on the back cover, the central one showing a wrecking ball taking the first bite out of the old building.
This is the way Ware tells his story. You have to stay alert, no fast flipping through the pages or you’ll miss a key fact. The novel hides its secrets in this way. Part of the reader’s pleasure comes in discovering them, in keeping track of the convoluted story line. So there’s a start. I’ll let you take it from there.
In his introductory note on the back of the box Ware writes, “the book is sure to sympathize with the crushing sense of life wasted, opportunities missed and creative dreams dashed which afflict the middle-and upper-class literary public.” So, to answer my question, judged by the goal Ware set for himself, the novel as story is as good as the art.
End note. Book arts, the graphic design elements that add texture and delight to the printed page, are in vogue. Chris Ware is in good part responsible for this development. His 2002 break-out book, “Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth” (Pantheon), embellished by one of the decade’s most wondrous book jackets, helped bring about the new regard for the arts of the book. The jacket unfolds to reveal, on the inside, a short graphic history of Chicago. The endpapers are equally ingenious. Another of my favorites is “Diary of an Amateur Photographer A Mystery” by Graham Rawle (1998, Penguin). Both books are still available on the Internet.
If you’re looking for something gorgeous and enigmatic to decorate your home with, look no further than Chris Ware’s Building Stories. This beautiful boxed set of items from Ware contains 14 different books, booklets, magazines, newspapers, and pamphlets, all in Ware’s signature, hyper-detailed style. It’s in a fairly large, yet attractive box that resembles a board game from the 1960s, and contains a treasure trove of items within. Ware is one of my favorite artists working today, and this boxed set of wonder continues his streak of putting out fantastic and unpredictable artwork. Definitely a must-have for Ware fans, or lovers of cartoons and graphic design.
Chris Ware always comes through and aims to please as a talented writer, and an amazing artist. This treasure chest of graphic artwork is delivered in a beautiful boxed set of items, including 14 unique books. One can become mesmerized by his gorgeous art, and display his works in different places of your choice. This wonderful treasure is a great gift for yourself, a friend, or a family member. I immediately thought of a birthday gift, or Christmas gift for someone special. They will enjoy every moment, and appreciate the fine art that it represents. For the icing on the cake, it should cost much more than it does. It certainly is worth much more than it sells for, and many would agree. Chris Ware’s work is Outstanding, and I always crave for more. Highly Recommended to anyone who enjoys the works of a Great artist and writer!
This is a book about the world from the ‘all-seeing’ point of view. The title is a pun, meaning (among other things) ‘creating stories’, ‘stories that build (in sequence)’, ‘stories that build (character)’ and ‘the stories as told by a building’. In tone and theme it reminds me of Kieslowski’s ‘Decalogue’ series, which was itself inspired by the security cameras on Communist Poland – that sense of recording everything objectively is present in Ware’s work, also. The artwork is not only strong, it fits, in each case, the message and theme of each individual piece. The random arrangement of stories is more than a mere gimmick – it enhances the sense of moral pity. One immediately empathizes with Ware’s characters, even (and perhaps especially), Branford, The Best Bee In The World. The work is full of insight, beauty and fun.
While all the reviews posted are uniformly positive, I felt a few words were needed to clearly assert the level of this artwork and encourage potential future buyers of it to go ahead with no hesitation.
As noted above, this is a masterpiece, plainly. Both in form and content, and also -no less relevant- in execution.
Chris Ware has established himself as one of the masters of the ancient art of the graphic story (there is not in our language quite an appropriate term for it like in french: “band desinee”), but here he has surpassed himself.
This is an exceptional achievement at the level of Maus or Valentina, Sacco’s work or Perramus, works that redefined the medium. Many a reader has been fascinated by the fragments of this story that were published earlier, but here in its final and complete form, Ware goes one step further down a path he himself opened long ago, developing a critical component, a meta-commentary on the act of reading itself that qualifies Building Stories as a brilliant breakthrough. It should be noted by the way, that the consistency of tone both narrative and graphic is not a limitation like a previous reviewer suggested, but rather a crucial link that ties together all parts as a single piece.
I’ll say it again, this is a towering achievement, a masterwork.
And as it has been said in another review, the price is completely ridiculous. If the art of graphic literature was given its just place in this crazy business that art has become in our times, we would be paying not three or four times more, like any decent art book would cost, but probably a quite few thousand dollars.
Get it now!
It’s wonderfully done, but if you use reading glasses, be sure to have a second pair, or a magnifying glass, to read the incredibly tiny type.
I’ve been reading Chris Ware since a friend turned me onto Acme Novelty Library in 1996. As great as “Jimmy Corrigan” is, I am even more awestruck by “Building Stories.” Presented as many pieces of print ephemera in a memory box, the act of engaging with the nonlinear story is itself a meditation on how we perceive our pasts and the way that our pasts interact with others whom we encounter over our lives.