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Building Stories Hardcover – Box set, October 2, 2012

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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Ware has been consistently pushing the boundaries for what the comics format can look like and accomplish as a storytelling medium. Here he does away with the book format—a thing between two covers that has a story that begins and ends—entirely in favor of a huge box containing 14 differently sized, formatted, and bound pieces: books, pamphlets, broadsheets, scraps, and even a unfoldable board that would be at home in a Monopoly box. The pieces, some previously published in various places and others new for this set, swarm around a Chicago three-flat occupied by an elderly landlady, a spiteful married couple, and a lonely amputee (there’s also a bee bumbling around in a rare display of levity). The emotional tenor remains as soul-crushing and painfully insightful as any of Ware’s work, but it’s really insufficient to talk about what happens in anything he does. It’s all about the grind and folly of everyday life but presented in an exhilarating fashion, each composition an obsessively perfect alignment of line, shape, color, and perspective. More than anything, though, this graphic novel (if it can even be called that) mimics the kaleidoscopic nature of memory itself—fleeting, contradictory, anchored to a few significant moments, and a heavier burden by the day. In terms of pure artistic innovation, Ware is in a stratosphere all his own. --Ian Chipman
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Product Details

  • Series: Building Stories
  • Hardcover: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; Box Pck edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375424334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375424335
  • Product Dimensions: 11.7 x 1.9 x 16.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

CHRIS WARE is the author of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and the annual progenitor of the amateur periodical the ACME Novelty Library. An irregular contributor to The New Yorker and The Virginia Quarterly Review,Ware was the first cartoonist chosen to regularly serialize an ongoing story in The New York Times Magazine, in 2005-2006. He edited the thirteenth issue of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern in 2004 as well as Houghton Mifflin's Best American Comics for 2007, and his work was the focus of an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 2006. Ware lives in Oak Park, Illinois, with his wife, Marnie, a high-school science teacher, and their daughter, Clara.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 78 people found the following review helpful By David R. Anderson on October 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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97 of 103 people found the following review helpful By sevenonseven on October 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Kelly on October 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Michael Cohen on February 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I like Chris Ware's work quite a bit but found this book to be a bloated mess. The best parts of this story are in Acme Novelty Library 16 and 18 and that's what I would recommend for purchase.

If you're looking for your first Ware Book the Jimmy Corrigan collection is an excellent place to start.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Vinoly on October 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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!
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