Beneath the surface: a review of The Underwater Welder

The waves are high and the sunset’s red. So now it’s time to go to bed.

The tide is up and the wind does rip. But worry not, ’cause we’ll never tip.

We’fe far at sea, days from land. But if you’re scared just take my hand.

Just hold on tight, boy-o-mine. In my arms you’ll be just fine.

The moon is full, the sea is deep.

We rock and rock and rock to sleep.

The Underwater Welder by Jeff LemireJeff Lemire has become one of the most popular comics creators in recent years, working with DC Comics to write and illustrate titles like SWEET TOOTH and the new ANIMAL MAN. This year’s The Underwater Welder (from Top Shelf Productions) is a graphic novel entirely of his own invention, and Lemire’s keen moral sense of character and thorough understanding of happiness and sorrow, and of success and failure, translate wonderfully into this standalone tale.

Lemire has a knack for balancing simplicity and complexity with equal grace. Divided into four parts, The Underwater Welder is about a man named Jack who’s about to start a family with his wife Susan, but before he can move forward, he must come to terms with the past. He dives deep into the cold, dark sea every day not in search of riches or sunken treasure but answers. Years ago, when Jack was still a child, his father jumped into the ocean and never returned, leaving him and his mother alone.

Now, as he’s on the verge of becoming a father to a baby boy, Jack’s fears and doubts bubble to the surface. Was his dad really the hero that he idolizes, or has he been ignoring his loved ones’ advice and forgetting about countless disappointments? Susan is worried that Jack will turn into his no-good father at a time when she needs him most, and he almost disappears altogether — just like his dad did. To shoulder the responsibility of parenthood, Jack must understand his father not as a child does, but as an adult can. Fathers are human beings, with real moments of strength and weakness, and Jack must figure out what kind of man his was. But there’s a possibility that he’s searching for a truth he’ll never find.

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It’s Monday! What are you reading? #1

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday, folks! I’ve decided to join the weekly reading meme over at Book Journey. Even if you don’t participate regularly or don’t intend to, feel free to tell us about your recent activity in the comments.

Today’s New Year’s Eve, so I hope everybody has plans to drink and party (drinking and reading is also acceptable). :) Have fun and stay safe out there.

What I’ve been reading

The Underwater Welder smallMy sister got me The Underwater Welder for Christmas, which I’ve been excited to read. Jeff Lemire is an amazing writer and artist. I’ll have my review posted in a couple hours (11 a.m. EST) at this link.

I also finally got around to reading Where the Dead Fear to Tread by M.R. Gott (review here). The author asked me to read it awhile ago (sorry!), but I just kept putting it on the backburner. I’m making it my goal to complete a few outstanding requests before I move on to other books.

January 12 is my next book club date, so I’ll be bringing along Zombie Blondes by Brian James. You can expect my review to go up then.

What I’m reading now

I’m about to start a book for Kirkus Indie (my lips are sealed on that one), and I’m hoping to continue reading The Jazz Cage by Ray Chen Smith — another one of those books I agreed to review for my blog but have been procrastinating on. Whoops! Sorry. :( I’ll do better! I’m making it my priority right now.

So far, though, so good.

What I plan to read next

The Casual Vacancy smallI’m really excited to start reading The Casual Vacancy, my book club selection for February. Whooo! By the way, is that book expensive or what? I have all of J.K. Rowling’s major books in hardcover, so I wanted this one to complete my collection. But holy cow — $35? I picked mine up for $24, but still, that’s ridiculous. Good thing I had a gift card.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is also calling to me, so I’ll probably begin that soon, too.

What are your reading plans? What books have you discovered lately? Any good recommendations — or words of caution? ;)