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Building Stories

Building Stories - Chris Ware I'll first mention that my experience with graphic novels is extremely limited. (I've read all of "The Walking Dead" novels, and I just finished the first "Game of Thrones" graphic novel.) So, I'm perhaps not the ideal target audience for a work of art such as this, but when I read so many glowing pre-publication reviews last week, I was immensely intrigued. The $30 price was, honestly, a bit daunting, but holding this collection in my hands, it feels like a bargain.

There are fourteen distinct "pieces" in the collection - books, pamphlets, comics, etc. Amazon's description notes there are 260 pages in total. Be sure to look at the group of six photos near the middle of the Amazon product page to get a feel for the items that are included, although the photos do not do this work justice. The pieces can be read in any order, and in fact, that randomness will impact every reader uniquely.

"Building Stories" examines the lives of four people (and one bee!) living in a three-level Chicago apartment building. The stories flash back and forth in time, and the primary focus is on a single female tenant. The title can be taken quite literally, as in life stories that occur in a building. Of course, a more apt interpretation is the idea that people are "built" by a series of sometimes seemingly mundane (or not so mundane) events, as captured in this collection.

I read today that Ware spent ten years working on "Building Stories." I'm not surprised, as his dedication and passion shine through on every beautiful page.