Reading Wednesday: Tales From the Inner City

photograph of a lungfish against gravel

I’m about three fourths of the way through Shaun Tan’s Tales From the Inner City. Not all the stories and images have stuck with me, but two of them have been in my thoughts many times a day– the first story, about crocodiles, and the one about lungfish.

I won’t say more lest spoilers, but it strikes me that these two favorites are also two of the most story-shaped stories. When I review them in my head, each of them has movement and an ending.

The book as a whole–a brief story or poem with at least one accompanying illustration in oils for each animal– has, on the other hand, made me think about how static I find Shaun Tan’s work. I’m making it sound like this is a bad thing, but I’m not sure it is. I love his paintings. But a Shaun Tan book is a collection more than a storybook, for me, even the ones that are not officially collections. Like the way some dreams feel like settings I’m exploring, more than events moving past like a film.

Anyway, those lungfish, man. And his website has preliminary drawings and models that he used to develop the paintings, and a little about the thoughts behind each story. (Personally I would wait on these until after reading the book to experience its magic cold.)

I’m also reading Gaudy Night along with friends. Harriet is rather horrible in her head! (but, I have an uncomfortable feeling, no more than I am.) I’m not looking much up, so arcane academia is washing over me.