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Building Stories

Building Stories

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Add This - Building Stories

Written by Chris WareAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Chris Ware

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Pantheon
  • On Sale: October 2, 2012
  • Price: $50.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-375-42433-5 (0-375-42433-4)
about this book

Everything you need to read the new graphic novel Building Stories: 14 distinctively discrete Books, Booklets, Magazines, Newspapers, and Pamphlets.

With the increasing electronic incorporeality of existence, sometimes it’s reassuring—perhaps even necessary—to have something to hold on to. Thus within this colorful keepsake box the purchaser will find a fully-apportioned variety of reading material ready to address virtually any imaginable artistic or poetic taste, from the corrosive sarcasm of youth to the sickening earnestness of maturity—while discovering a protagonist wondering if she’ll ever move from the rented close quarters of lonely young adulthood to the mortgaged expanse of love and marriage. Whether you’re feeling alone by yourself or alone with someone else, this book is sure to sympathize with the crushing sense of life wasted, opportunities missed and creative dreams dashed which afflict the middle- and upper-class literary public (and which can return to them in somewhat damaged form during REM sleep).

A pictographic listing of all 14 items (260 pages total) appears on the back, with suggestions made as to appropriate places to set down, forget or completely lose any number of its contents within the walls of an average well-appointed home. As seen in the pages of The New Yorker, The New York Times and McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Building Stories collects a decade’s worth of work, with dozens of “never-before published” pages (i.e., those deemed too obtuse, filthy or just plain incoherent to offer to a respectable periodical).

“Even if you're not a comics reader, you've probably heard of Chris Ware, and for a good reason: He has redefined what comics can do. . . . Ware has crafted a springboard for his inventiveness, his intelligence, and his thoughtful approach to tacking issues of family, marriage, friendship, loneliness, aging and loss. Through his mastery of comics' potential, and the wealth of ways that images and words can interact, Ware has invented methods of moving through time that neither books nor films can match. . . . Building Stories is not only important, it's fun to read.” —NPR Critics' List Summer 2013

“Ware masterfully tells the stories in ways that are clear and concise, but also astonishingly creative, bending the progression of images around pages large and small…The actual writing is wonderful, both in the measured, sharply observed lives of the different characters, but also in the use of language. Ware knows when thick overstatement in the narration will add a comic edge and also how to shape meandering inner thought processes to get at the contradictory cores of the people on the page. He stuffs his pages with images, and they all have rich ideas behind them. . . . Building Stories is daunting, exhausting and grand. Like Art Spiegelman’s Maus from two decades earlier, it so completely transcends any attempt to contain its importance to solely the field of comics that it announces itself as nothing less than a vital piece of literature, no qualifiers necessary or welcome.” —Spectrum Culture

“A feat of ambitious storytelling that doesn’t shy away from the microscopically detailed character study that has set Ware’s work apart his entire career.” —Slate, Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Graphic Novel of the Year

“Chris Ware has done it again! Ware continues to dazzle and amaze his fans with breathtaking groundbreaking work! There’s never been a book like this before! A new standard is set!” —The Comics Journal

“Ware’s inventive storytelling techniques make the best possible case for the physical book as an integral part of storytelling.” —The Stranger

“In the end, the process Ware recreates here is universal, which is what gives Building Stories its resonance. The woman's dream, after all, is everyone's: the dream of making sense of ourselves, of having things add up. That they don't, that they can never, is the paradox, and yet what else can we do but try? Here we have the essential question Ware wants us to consider, and his answer—brave, beautiful and brilliant—is the story we build out of this box.” —David Ulin, Los Angeles Times

“This book is a masterpiece. . . . Building Stories is a masterpiece, above all, because it cares about human beings, many of them women. It cares enough to observe human beings closely, both when they are behaving themselves, and when they are engaging in their manifold selfishnesses. It cares enough about them to depict them when they are attractive and when they are singularly unattractive. The contemporary novel, it bears mentioning, does not care this much, because the contemporary novel is so preoccupied with affirmation that it will not risk what Ware is willing to risk. Perhaps Ware risks in this way because, as a person who began by illustrating, he is willing to see exactly what’s taking place around him, all of it. But by building up his stories from the fragments, from the discontinuous moments, episodes of glancing contact, and the disconnections as well as the connections, he has made something that, if possible, is more literary than most contemporary literature. The American novel, that is, has a lot to learn from this very convincing and masterful work.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“I can guarantee that you, too, will feel an overwhelming sense of wonderment and religious-grade awe as you open the Building Stories box. It’s as though you have unearthed god’s blueprints for humanity or a treasure trove of someone’s very orderly outsider art. This thing, whatever it is, is straight-up super beautiful, and the experience of reading it is like unwrapping birthday presents and choosing your own adventure all at once. It is the joy of reading incarnate, and I don’t think I’ve experienced it so intensely since I was a kid. Building Stories really is a landmark achievement. It mounts a compelling defense for survival of print—like Kidd said, great art can be great business. But more than that, Building Stories offers a greater truth about life: even when it’s dark and unpleasant, oh man, it is something to behold.” —The Rumpus

“Utterly unique. . . . For readers it’s a veritable treasure chest, a deeply layered narrative that can turn, as those familiar with Ware’s work have come to expect, on the subtlest of gestures, on the simplest poetry of a character’s heartbreaking monologue. But for writers it’s a rare opportunity to see the architecture of storytelling stripped bare, to witness an artist at the top of his game as he not only writes his way through the inner lives of his characters, but also transforms his adjectives and adverbs into a stunning visual narrative.” —Poets and Writers

“The work reads as if Ware were painting a mural in illustration of a series of philosophical issues: what it means to love, what it means to be alone, what it means to be part of a social construct, what it means to be an inanimate object, what it means to be a city, and even, at certain particularly poignant moments, what it means to be a color. And as such, the title is an understatement: the real story told here is the story of the world, and how we live in it.” —Full

“Awe-inducing. . . . As usual with Ware, the vérité drawing style is impeccable, every mark and color just so, the frames natural and exquisite.” —L Magazine

“I’ve never seen anything like Chris Ware’s Building Stories, and chances are you haven’t either, at least in the context of comics. Building Stories is aptly named–it’s not so much a comic book, or even a series of comic books, as it is a set of parts for making your own stories out of the materials provided. . . . The art is fantastically inventive.” —Playback St. Louis

“So far ahead of the game that it tempts you to find fault just to prove that a human made it. . . . Ware is remarkably deft at balancing the demands of fine art, where sentimentality is an error, and those of storytelling, where emotion is everything.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Chris Ware’s new Building Stories confirms his place alongside Nabokov and David Foster Wallace in the pantheon of masterful mindfuck writers. . . . Ware’s artistic skills are unmatched.” —Philadelphia City Paper

“What is surprising is how quickly Ware can dismantle one’s preconceived notions of genre, leading the reader far past traditional definitions of what literature–or comics–is and isn’t, and deep into his fictional characters’ inner lives. . . . For readers it’s a veritable treasure chest, a deeply layered narrative that can turn, as those familiar with Ware’s work have come to expect, on the subtlest of gestures, on the simplest poetry of a character’s heartbreaking monologue. But for writers it’s a rare opportunity to see the architecture of storytelling stripped bare, to witness an artist at the top of his game as he not only writes his way through the inner lives of his characters, but also transforms his adjectives and adverbs into a stunning visual narrative.” —Poets and Writers

Building Stories will forever distinguish [Ware] as one of the preeminent figures in comic book narrative and illustration. . . . Ware’s crisp, detailed style is at the heart of the illustrative body of the work. The line work is impeccably smooth, and rich colors of all hues radiate from the page. Gorgeous renditions of blooming spring flowers and rain-soaked leaves are tempered by somber and contemplative scenes of half-lit domestic interiors, which are drawn out with such bleak details as single beds, accumulating dirt, and molding scraps of food. And in that uniquely and traditionally Ware way, these initially humble and simplistic images use their apparent quietness to usher the reader into the world of the text.” —Chicago Maroon

“Intelligent, carefully crafted and emphatically not for everyone.” —Paste Magazine

“There simply will not be a more beautifully packaged book this year than Chris Ware’s Building Stories, the latest from the master graphic novelist.” —Salon

"This is more than a book; it's a profusion of printed paper . . . told in Ware's instantly recognizable style, with panels so silent and perfectly composed, they're reminiscent of stained-glass windows."–TIME

“What sets this latest work apart is its format–and how fundamentally that format shapes the reader's experience. . . . [A] precise, colorful, intricate and ultimately beautiful book.” —NPR. Org

Building Stories is one of the most compelling and emotionally resonant works I have read in years…never before, perhaps, has the mundanity of daily life been given such weight and such beauty. . . . Building Stories is a graphic novel of the ordinary that sees the extraordinary at the heart of our day-to-day existence…It’s the best thing I’ve read this year.” —Knoxville Metropulse

“Takes Ware’s approach to visual storytelling to a new level of game-changing. . . . Chris Ware’s stories are the sheet music that we read to hear music in our hearts.” —Lit New City

“Chris Ware is one of the true modern masters of the sequential art medium and an absolute artisan when it comes to showing the beauty of an ugly truth. . . . It’s truly masterful storytelling that will be a unique experience for each reader and something that would be impossible in any other medium than print. . . . Each of us in our own way is desperately searching for our own sense of meaning, accomplishment, and self-worth, but anyone who has ever felt their creativity suppressed—or really anyone who has ever clung onto the good in their bad relationship (or the bad in their good relationship)—will see a lot of truth nestled in these almost magical pages. “ —The New York Journal of Books

Building Stories will only enhance the artist’s exalted status within the world of graphic literature. . . . [A]we-inspiring.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Quietly defies any pre-existing comic conventions. I couldn’t wait to write about how ardently I recommend this collection. . . . The “graphic novel” misnomer masks the breadth of old and new creations compiled in this extremely innovative, fascinating anthology, a bold declaration for the wonders of pulp and ink in the digital age.” —Jenna Marotta, CBS Smart Planet

“Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Building Stories is the single greatest argument for the continuation of print comics that could possibly be conceived. Building stories could not exist in any other format and retain its power and beauty. It is a wholly immersive experience which cannot be imitated nor duplicated in a digital format, not matter how powerful the processor or how many dpi your screen resolution. . . . Building Stories is unlike anything else I have experienced. It is more than a book. It is more than a story. It is a glimpse into the lives of people. Building Stories should be in everyone’s collection, not just as a work of art, but as a notice of the potential that still exists in storytelling.” —Stumptown Trade Review

“It’s already being hailed as a classic and it was released only Tuesday. . . . Building Stories gorgeously expands the graphic novel form.” —Daily Beast

“Ware has single-handedly re-defined the possibilities of the graphic novel form. His work is complex, serious and stunningly beautiful. . . . Building Stories is a rich, mature work that defies categorization and must be experienced to be fully understood.” —WICN interview

“This week marked the release of Chris Ware’s unbelievably wonderful graphic novel Building Stories, which we (and everyone else) have been awaiting with bated breath for many months. The graphic publishing event of the year, the book is truly a world you can get lost in. . . . [A] total triumph, an immersive story that you can literally (well almost) immerse yourself in.” —

“Ware provides one of the year’s best arguments for the survival of print…the spectacular, breathtaking visual splendor make this one of the year’s standout graphic novels.” —Publisher Weekly, starred review

"Chris Ware's Building Stories is the rarest kind of brilliance; it is simultaneously heartbreaking, hilarious, shockingly intimate and deeply insightful. There isn't a graphic artist alive or dead who has used the form this wonderfully to convey the passage of time, loneliness, longing, frustration or bliss. It is the reader's choice where and how to begin this monumental work—the only regret you will have in starting it is knowing that it will end."
—J. J. Abrams

"Chris (Ware) really changed the playing field. After him, a lot of (cartoonists) really started to scramble and go holy (expletive), 'I think I have to try harder.'" —Seth, author of It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken

Building Stories is the graphic novel of the season or perhaps the year, a story that must be experienced rather than read . . . Ware takes visual storytelling to a new level of both beauty and despair in a work people will be talking about for a long time.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A treasure trove of graphic artworks—they’re too complex to be called comics—from Ware, master of angst, alienation, sci-fi and the crowded street . . . A dazzling document.” —Kirkus, starred review

“There’s no writer alive whose work I love more than Chris Ware. The only problem is it takes him ten years to draw these things and then I read them in a day and have to wait another ten years for the next one.” —Zadie Smith

“If there’s one release this year that people will be asking you about, odds are it’ll be this one…There’s no way to get ready for Ware beyond clearing one’s calendar, so yes: it’s time to start calling babysitters.” —Flavorwire

“Ware has been consistently pushing the boundaries for what the comics format can look like and accomplish as a storytelling medium. . . . More than anything, though, this graphic novel 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.” —Booklist, starred review

Building Stories is a momentous event in the world of comics—the unusual format of Ware’s book is bound to help redefine yet again what a “graphic novel” can be.” —New Yorker blog

“Remarkable . . . all of it is drawn in Ware's meticulous style, inked in his bright, bold colors, and written in his decidedly literary voice. This is a publishing event; I can't believe it's retailing for only 50 bucks.” —Chicago Reader

“A visionary boxed collection. . . . [A] stunning triumph for graphic novels as a literature all its own.” —Publishers Weekly Comics World

“Feels very good and looks even better . . . the illustrations of a genius unleashed by mixed media, ultimately making us feel good about our losses and our loneliness, our dreams and our expectations.A magnificent undertaking by any measure.” —Counterpunch

“Ware’s masterful project balances thoughtful storytelling, aesthetic beauty, scrupulous detail, and fancies both lofty and earthbound. The insular but lush world of lonely people that emerges is one of the year’s most affecting.” —Time Out New York, Best of 2012

“Monumental.” —Pittsburg Post-Gazette

“A beautiful collection of cartoons. . . . Building Stories begs not merely to be displayed but to redecorate your house.” —Newsday

“I have now spent a week in sloppy communion with Building Stories and am ready to declare it one of the most important pieces of art I have ever experienced. I also sort of want to kill myself. . . . Much can and will be said about Ware’s decision, along with Pantheon’s, to publish such an inconvenient product, and how it flies in the face of publishing trends, which veer, ever more desperately, toward the convenience of electronic reading. As someone who self-publishes books, and refuses to make them available on devices, I applaud everyone involved—even my children, who eventually left me alone to pore over what they called my “weirdo picture books.” But what makes Building Stories monumental isn’t its unorthodox format. It’s Ware’s ruthless and tender pursuit of undisguised emotion. His work is brutal in the way all great art is. I can’t wait to experience it again.” —Steve Almond, The New Republic

“It’s in Ware’s empathy and humanity that he distinguishes himself, and you’ll find yourself drawn back to his nameless characters time and time again...As for where to start and end your journey, Building Stories has one great advantage over real life: you can dip back into the box and experience it a million different ways.” —Monkey Bicycle

“One of the strongest arguments against the death of printed paper. . . . Ware’s genius lies in telling of everyday insecurities and pleasures and various mundania that make us identify with the characters.” —Singapore Times

“The standout work of the year is Chris Ware’s breathtaking treasure chest.” —Boston Globe gift guide

“Ware’s Building Stories is a stunning reminder of the capabilities of print, telling a tender and crushing tale of missed opportunities.” —The Huffington Post

Ware highlights relevant threads in multiple places, teasing full stories that he reveals elsewhere and guiding you masterfully to assemble the whole picture while still letting you feel smart. It may leave you with a hard little knot in your chest about the human condition (birth, maturation, possibly procreation and death, all in a short span and with little to show for it but brief moments of animal joy), but it also somehow makes you enjoy the knowledge.” —Paste Magazine

Surely, no comic book artist has ever created anything quite like this: a glorious treasure box of sorts containing books, pamphlets, leaflets and old-timey newspapers—all of which tell of the daily struggles of the residents of a Chicago building. Heartbreak and flashes of hope illuminate even the tiniest of panels.” —San Francisco Chronicle Gift Guide

“Pages of extraordinary inventiveness. . . . Throughout Building Stories, Ware’s attention to the awkward physicality, the constant humiliations and cruelties of human existence is as precise and as brutally funny as it is in his previous work.”The New York Review of Books

“An eye-popping astonishment.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

”Its brilliance is not debatable. . . . The components of Building Stories can be read and combined and recombined in any order, producing chance connections and beautiful resonances–very much the way life itself does.” —Time Top Ten in Fiction

“Ware’s innovative graphic novel deepens and enriches the form by breaking it apart. . . . [T]ackles universal themes including art, sex, family and existential loneliness in a way that’s simultaneously playful and profound.” —The New York Times Book Review, “The 10 Best Books of 2012”

“The book is at its most sublime in its wordless passages. If the documents are read in the order they are packaged, Building Stories opens with a brilliant, silent fugue that tells a story in images alone. . . . [A] triumph of imagination. Amid cheap disposability, Ware’s work painstakingly honors craftsmanship and originality. He is a rare breed, and his work deserves celebration and preservation…While others lament the end of books defeatedly, Ware gives us tangible reasons to delay sounding the death knoll for the printed page.” —CS Monitor

“You could call Stories a game-changer, except so few besides Ware could ever construct such a retro-aesthetic feat.” —The Washington Post, “Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2012”

“Stunning. . . . As usual, Mr. Ware’s style is a model of compression in both word and picture. Less usual, for the genre as a whole, is the vividness with which he limns his heroine’s intense, if fairly ordinary, inner life. . . . The lack of clear structure, much less traditional linearity, turns reading into an unusually active process. This is a great, easily ownable work of art.” —The New York Times

“A work of art. . . . Ware has an extraordinary instinct for the empathic illumination of banality. He makes plain–beautifully and unsentimentally plain–the fact that nothing is more ordinary than to be lonely and despairing and dying. Perhaps this sounds depressing. It isn’t. Only bad art is depressing; good art, no matter what its subject, is exhilarating. Building Stories takes everyday sadness and makes something very beautiful of it, something powerfully human and true. That is a rare gift, and I’m very thankful to have received it.” —The Millions

“Destined to become a collector’s item.” —Vogue Gift Guide

"Chris Ware's Building Stories is the rarest kind of brilliance; it is simultaneously heartbreaking, hilarious, shockingly intimate and deeply insightful. There isn't a graphic artist alive or dead who has used the form this wonderfully to convey the passage of time, loneliness, longing, frustration or bliss. It is the reader's choice where and how to begin this monumental work—the only regret you will have in starting it is knowing that it will end." —J. J. Abrams

"Chris (Ware) really changed the playing field. After him, a lot of (cartoonists) really started to scramble and go holy (expletive), 'I think I have to try harder.'" —Seth, author of It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken

“Stunningly innovative. . . . Basically a book-in-a-box, Building Stories is spread among 14 different pieces—15 if you count the illustrated box itself—ranging in size and shape from small and booklet-size to a Little Golden Book-style hardback to a game-board-size fold-out board. All of which might just add up to a clever and daring experiment if Ware’s characters weren’t so alive, his art so precise and pleasing and his story so vital and heart-wrenching.” —Vancouver Sun

“Apparently, no one ever told Chris Ware that print is dead. Or maybe they did and this is his fantastic rebuttal. Ware, the master behind Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, has created a batch of sad, highly detailed comics with "Building Stories." The catch is the presentation. Inside this oversized box are 14 different stories—some are traditional books of various sizes, others are magazines, newspapers and small pamphlets. This isn't a graphic novel. It's a library ready to be explored.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Ware is the rare cartoonist whose art is matched not just by formalist experimentation but also by his storytelling abilities (and, relatedly, his empathy for his fellow human beings). . . . Building Stories is the best yet distillation of his talents.” —

“Literally the Best Thing Ever: Chris Ware. His books are as big and as small as the world.” —Rookie Magazine

“With the release of Building Stories, Chris Ware has created a graphic novel that is the perfect antidote to our distracted times, a work of art that forces you to consider it, not while elbow-warring on the bus or during other transitory in-between moments, but while keeping things stationary in a quiet place where you feel comfortable having your world rocked.” —KQED online review