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The Curious Curator's Book Blog

Contemporary art curator. Student. Book addict. Art lover. Geek. Dreamer. Curious about everything. Check out my website http://thecuriouscurator.com/

Currently reading

EarthBound (Boss Fight Books, #1)
Ken Baumann
How to Do Things with Videogames
Ian Bogost
Philosophie des jeux vidéo
Mathieu Triclot

American Vampire Vol. 1

American Vampire #1 - Stephen King, Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque

American Vampire follows the appearance of a new breed of vampire, an "evolution" that happens when the vampires from Europe travel to America to further their wealth, and one of them accidentally turns a local criminal. This new breed is a little different - they can walk in the sun, are immune to wood, their strength wanes during the new moon, and so on.


The story follows Skinner Sweet, the first American vampire, from the wild west to 1920s Los Angeles, where we also meet Pearl Jones, an aspiring young actress. It was written by Scott Snyder and Stephen King, and illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque.


It's strange to see all the blurbs and comments saying that this is an original portrayal of vampires. While it's nice to get a break from all the stories where vampires are just bad boys with feelings, I wouldn't consider this an entirely new approach, but instead a return to how things should be. These vampires are vicious, vengeful and violent, but still manage to be strangely charming. The story is compelling and the artwork, gritty and rough, lends itself well to the book's atmosphere. The dialogues sometimes felt flat to me, specially when it involved the Old World vampires, who seemed rather corny and cliche. Still, this was an enjoyable read and I'll be looking forward to the next volume.

Serralves 2009: A Colecção

Serralves 2009: A colecção (Vol. I) - Cláudia Gonçalves, Joao Fernandes

A catalogue-like book made by the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in 2009, when they made their first major exhibition fully focused on the artworks they have in their collection. Besides photographs and documents, this book also features essays on Serralves' history and the logic behind the collection. Very informative for those who are interested in knowing a bit more about the museum.

Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere

Neverwhere - Mike Carey, Glenn Fabry, Neil Gaiman

Richard Mayhew is just your average person with an average job, who allows himself to be gently (and not so gently) pushed around by pretty much everyone and everything in his life. When he stops to help an injured young lady named Door, who comes from London Below, a sort of parallel city that exists beneath and connected to London, his life changes.


This is the graphic adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel. I admit, after reading this I wish I had read the original novel first. I loved the story, and the settings were beautifully depicted, but I was left feeling like something was missing, and the story could have benefited from a slower pace.


Still, this is a lovely book and I recommend it, specially if you're read the original novel before.

Cowboys and Aliens

Cowboys and Aliens - Scott Mitchell Rosenberg

I hate to say this about any book, but this wasn't good. Actually, it was much worse than I expected. I saw the movie first, and while I didn't love it, it was way better than the book. What's more, the stories are completely different, the only real connection being that, in both, there are cowboys and - wait for it - aliens.


This wasn't a disaster, but the story is way too basic and nothing, not the characters, the setting or the events, gets explored in the slightest, which was a disappointment.

American Born Chinese

American Born Chinese - Gene Luen Yang

I'm going to let you in on a secret, little friend. It's easy to become anything you wish... So long as you're willing to forfeit your soul.


A beautifully drawn fable-like book about accepting who you are. Has a slower pace than a lot of other graphic novels, but it suits the story, and there are little moments of humor that keep everything interesting. Well worth the read.

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë

I started reading this for a book club, but I couldn't help finishing it earlier than we were supposed to. I was surprised at how engrossed I was with Jane Eyre's story - I expected a decent, but unsurprising romance, and instead found a compelling tale that kept me interested to the end.


Charlotte Brontë's writing is very limpid and clear, and her storytelling is simple and effective. The story itself benefited from the characters, which were well explored and mostly realistic - I particularly like Mr. Rochester. All in all, I liked this book, but didn't love it. I can appreciate it as a classic and see why it's become one, though. Highly recommended!

O Espectador Emancipado by Jacques Rancière

O Espectador Emancipado - Jacques Rancière, José Miranda Justo

Earlier this year I went to a conference in Lisbon in which Jacques Rancière and Hans Belting discussed various problematics regarding the image. Despite having unfortunately chosen a seat next to a gentleman who kept falling asleep and loudly snoring, I enjoyed the talk, and was intrigued enough to delve into Jacques Rancière’s work (I was already familiar with Hans Belting’s).


The author has some thought-provoking ideas, and he writes in such a clear, logical way that I ended up liking this book a lot, even though I didn’t quite agree with all his points. The book comprises five essays (the results of various talks given all over the world), all of which are highly intelligent, well-developed, and far too long and detailed for me to discuss here, so I’ll just list them briefly.


The first of them, "The Emancipated Spectator", is about the problematic of the spectator in the art of theatre, which was interesting to me since theatre is probably the art form I’m least versed in. The author raises some very good points about whether the spectator is passive or active, and if that should be addressed or changed by the actors. Next came "The Misadventures of Critical Thinking", which explores the tradition of criticizing art and whether that tradition (or its denial) is relevant nowadays. The "Paradoxes of Political Art" was one of the most interesting to me, since it delved deep into the contradictions inherent to political, and politicized, art. The last two, "The Intolerable Image" and "The Thinking Image", were closer to the lecture I listened to and focused mainly on images and visual arts.


This is a book well-worth reading, and I also recommend searching for the responses to these ideas by other authors, some of which can be found online.

Promethea Book 5

Promethea, Vol. 5 - Alan Moore, J.H. Williams III, Mick Gray

I really liked this series. The themes might not be for everyone, but then again, nothing is. If nothing else, it's thought-provoking and very effective (not to mention beautiful) as a graphic novel. The final issue is pure genius. Highly recommended.

Promethea Book 3

Promethea, Vol. 3 - Alan Moore

The mystical allegories take precedence over the story on this volume, which is I suppose the whole point of it. Interesting interpretations of many belief systems, though somewhat confusing (and annoying) at times. Still, I'm curious to see where the series goes next.

Como se Faz Uma Tese em Ciências Humanas

Como se Faz uma Tese em Ciências Humanas - Umberto Eco, Ana Falcão Bastos, Luís Leitão

I'm currently enrolled in a Master's program and about to start working on my thesis in Museum Studies. Since I used to be a Medicine student, I'm more familiar with scientific research, so I wanted a book that was more focused on other kinds of works. This one by Umberto Eco seems to be regarded as the authority in the matter.


It was a nice read (even if the author can seem rather unorthodox at times) and overall quite useful. I read an older edition so the research chapters are painfully dated (no internet back in those days), but I don't mind because it's helpful to know what to do in those cases when the library you want to use doesn't have a completely digitalized catalog.


Overall, useful, specially if you're, like me, just starting out.

Promethea Book 1

Promethea, Vol. 1 - Mick Gray, J.H. Williams III, Alan Moore

Sophie Bangs is a college student in a present-day New York in an universe where the world is completely dominated by science. There are flying cars and high tech buildings, cutting edge medical treatments, and fiction and myth are things of the past, relegated to academical studies. Sophie is interested in a mysterious character named Promethea, who keeps appearing at different and seemingly unrelated times in history. Soon, her research gets her closer to the physical embodiment of Promethea, and she discovers that she is the next person to channel the power of Imagination.


This was recommended to me by a friend who is usually spot on about books that I will like. Sure enough, I wasn't disappointed. The exploration of imagination and dreams, communication and stories as the next stage in the evolution of the human beings, was extremely interesting. I loved the humor in his portrayal of modern society in all its absurdity. The artwork was fantastic as well, with the paneling artfully depicting the narrative and the "parallel" worlds.


Looking forward to the next installment of the series.

Amados Gatos

Amados Gatos - José Jorge Letria

Amados Gatos, or "Beloved Cats", is book of short stories inspired by the cats of various famous people, mainly writers. The stories portray a deeply intimate, symbiotic relationship that I suspect people who don't have and love cats will have trouble understanding. I adore cats and have felt exactly what it means to have them as companions, so while I enjoyed reading this book, I do wish the author had balanced the nostalgic, sometimes tragic tales with a little bit of the happiness he would sometimes mention, but which remained largely unexplored.


For those that are interested in the relationship between writers and their cats, I recommend the website "Writers and Kitties", which is sort of like this book in pictorial form, while also showing that look of pride and love most people have when they're with their cats.

Madame Xanadu Vol. 1: Disenchanted

Madame Xanadu, Vol. 1: Disenchanted - Matt Wagner, Amy Reeder, Richard Friend

Lovely artwork from Amy Reeder Hadley. The story was interesting, but Madame Xanadu, as a character, fell a little short of my expectations. I felt that she had the potential to be a lot more interesting, not to mention likable. The Phantom Stranger was simply annoying and had a serious lack of communication skills, but then again, I've never been a fan of these brooding, mysterious character types. Still, the story was good and I enjoyed reading about how the story of Madame Xanadu (or Nimue) entangled with the stories of other DC characters, as well as with historical events such as the French revolution.


P.S. In the Marie Antoinette chapter, I was a little irked by the errors in the French sentences. "Le Madame"? "Les belle dames"? Hmm.

How to Get a Job in a Museum Or Art Gallery

How to Get a Job in a Museum or Art Gallery - Alison Baverstock

A thorough and sobering look at the business of museums and galleries and what it is really like working in this field. The art world sometimes feels like a confusing place, and it's hard to plan a career because nobody seems to have followed the same route to where they are, erroneously leading one to think that everything depends on luck. So it's refreshing to read a practical study, with interviews and case studies from people in the field.


The only negative point is that it's very UK centric, but I guess that's to be expected. All in all, a very useful read, highly recommended if you're starting out.

The Locals' Guide to Edinburgh

The Locals' Guide to Edinburgh - Owen O'Leary

This month, I went to Scotland for the first time. I was only there for a week, but in all honesty, if I could I wouldn't have left. I've traveled to many places in the world but this is the first time I've felt so strongly about a place. Edinburgh is the city of my dreams. I heartily recommend going there to everyone, no matter where you're from.


Since I prefer to visit places by exploring and meeting locals rather than following tourist routes, I went into a book store searching for a different kind of guide. I'm really glad I found this one. It's a beautifully designed book written by people who live in the city, and features recommendations that go far beyond the obvious. It's made me want to go back even more, and I actually didn't want this book to end, because delving into it felt like being back in the city. Recommended!

Palace of Dreams

The Palace of Dreams - Ismail Kadaré, Barbara Bray

This book follows Mark-Alem, a young man from an aristocratic family in the Ottoman Empire, who, at the bid of his family, starts working in the Palace of Dreams. This is a place where the dreams of every person in the empire are collected, sorted and interpreted, in order to control the citizens and find the Master Dreams, the ones that give clues into the future of the Sultan and the Empire. The building is a nightmarish maze that engulfs Mark-Alem in despair, and his powerful family's interests are frequently at odds with those of the Palace, so he fears that his life will eventually be touched by disaster.


The premise of this book is quite interesting, but I had problems getting into it because of, well, everything else. I don't know how much was lost in translation (this is an English translation from the French version - the original is in Albanian) but the writing style didn't work for me. Mark-Alem's disposition in the entire book went from very nervous to outright panic, and I couldn't understand why. It felt like the book was telling me that he had reasons to feel terrified but wasn't actually showing me the reasons. I really liked the premise, and I usually like metaphors and political dystopias, but this one just didn't work for me.


P.S. Even though I wasn’t crazy about this book, I do have an interesting back story about it. My friend André bought it in Cuba (of all places!) when we went there a couple of years ago, but only managed to read it on a journey to London. He lent it to me so I could read it on our trip to Scotland last week. So this is a very well traveled book!