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Month in review

Reviews
The Alcatraz Escape by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Better Off Read by Nora Page
Braced by Alyson Gerber
The Chosen Ones by Scarlett Thomas
Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya
Fleep by Jason Shiga
The House on East 88th Street by Bernard Waber
I'll Save You Bobo! by Eileen Rosenthal
A Just Clause by Lorna Barrett
Karma Khullar's Mustache by Kristi Wientge
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
Love & War by Melissa de la Cruz
Malaika’s Winter Carnival by Nadia L. Hohn and Irene Luxbacher (illustrator) Merman in My Tub, Volume 2 by Itokichi
The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time by Steven Sherrill
Murder Past Due by Miranda James
Nurse, Soldier, Spy by Marissa Moss and John Hendrix
The Outlaw Varjak Paw by S.F. Said
Ragtag by Karl Wolf-Morgenländer
The Road is Yours Reginald M. Cleveland Rooster Joe and the Bully by Xavier Garza
Runaways, Volume 1: Find Your Way Home by Rainbow Rowell
Ship It by Britta Lundin
Square by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella
Time Ghost by Welwyn Wilton Katz
Wandering Son: Volume 3 by Takako Shimura
White Night by Jim Butcher
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum: rereading for the American road narrative

Miscellaneous
Canadian Book Challenge: 2018-2019
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (June 04)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (June 11)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (June 18)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (June 25)
May 2018 Sources
May 2018 Summary
On counting books: stop policing other people's reading
Thirty-one years of tracking my reading

Road Essays
Ignoring the eight percent
There are 216 road narrative stories (that I'm interested in)
Traveling between utopia and uhoria: an introduction to the use of space and time in Oz and Night Vale
Who is Dorothy?

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2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish


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There are 216 road narrative stories (that I'm interested in): 06/08/18

May book sources

When analyzing a group of narratives one must decide what counts and what doesn't. Throw too wide a net and one gets nothing but noise. Cast too narrow and one'll miss important forms of variation an exceptions to the rule.

After two and a half years of re-visiting the road narrative project I was getting a sense of what made a road narrative and more importantly which types of road narratives I was most interested in. Because of the apparent binary to road narratives I was at first trying to categorize everything into an either / or type lists.

And then last year I had a eureka moment. The human brain perceives color in a circular manner. Red and blue come in the middle of violet, even though on the light spectrum, violet is at one end of the wavelengths from red. So my reasoning was: what if narrative building blocks are both circular and linear depending on how they were looked at?

To test this theory I arbitrarily assigned the major building blocks of the road narrative. I assigned blue to what I was calling "on the road" thinking of the privileged masculine stories of Kerouac, Supernatural (especially the early seasons). As it's complimentary color / genre building block, I put "there and back again" which is the classic British travelogue type story.

In the middle of the color wheel, I left a swirling mess of colors for the areas of this categorizing I hadn't figured out.

Old version

Then I assigned the types of characters to those genre colors. For just over a year this first generation genre wheel served me well. It gave me a visual way of analyzing road narratives I was reading, especially the more usual ones like Kate Milford's Nagspeake set books, Kat Yeh's The Way to Bea.

But as I got further and further "off road" and further and further into other methods of travel, such as the cornfield and the maze and

the labyrinth, I began to see that my initial genre wheel wasn't enough. It was essentially two dimensional when I really needed three dimensions to track the variations in construction of the road narratives I have been studying.

And that's when my designer mind came to the perfect solution: hexadecimal colors. Namely, the RGB colors that the web uses. Furthermore I had settled (through trial and error) on six types of building blocks for my three dimensions (or channels, if thinking colors): character types, destination, and, road. By keeping it to six each, I have a maximum of 216 basic narratives to worry about which I can color code with web safe colors.

How it works:

Character types   Destination   Road
Character Hex Color   Destination Hex Color   Road Hex Color
Orphan FF0000     Utopia 00FF00     Cornfield 0000FF  
Siblings CC0000     Uhoria 00CC00     Maze 0000CC  
Scarecrow / Minotaur 990000     Wild lands 009900     Labyrinth 000099  
Marginalized 660000     Home 006600     Offroad 000066  
Couple / Family 330000     Rural 003300     Blue Highway 000033  
Privileged 000000     City 000000     Interstate 000000  

Each of these three narrative construction pieces are assigned a number based on who the story is about, where that character is going, and who that character gets there. For more complex analysis, one could color code at more finite gradations, say by chapter or even by scene to see how the narrative evolves over time.

As there are 216 web safe colors, there are at most, 216 types of road narratives that I am currently interested in for this project. Of those 216, I am most interested in the the ones at the most saturated "on" channels, the ones were extraordinary characters take extraordinary routes to get to extraordinary places.

You'll notice at at the bottom of the list of genre construction blocks, is the most basic, most generic road narrative: namely that of a privileged person (usually a young white man), going to the big city by way of an interstate. This is the story type I am least interested, and frankly, the one that has gotten (and continues to get) the most attention.

In my next article, I will define the terms used here and give more concrete examples of the stories that most interest me and a brief description as to why.

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