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June 5, 2008

Book Notes - Dash Shaw ("Bottomless Belly Button")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that is in some way relevant to their recently published books.

There are a couple of friends I can always rely on for quality book suggestions. Most of these people have known me for years, have endured my own book recommendations, and have learned my likes and dislikes. These days individual books are just as likely to be recommended online by websites, writers, and bloggers whose tastes are similar to mine and I have learned to respect. One of those bloggers is Whitney Matheson at USA Today's Pop Candy blog. As I have delved into the wonders of comics and graphic novels over the past several years, her advice has proved invaluable and has never let me down. A couple of years ago this princess of pop culture recommended Dash Shaw's graphic novel, The Mother's Mouth, and immediately introduced me to one of my favorite cartoonists. For more of her comics and graphic novel recommendations, check out the Pop Candy "comics crash course," but make sure you free up some reading time beforehand.

Shaw's second graphic novel, Bottomless Belly Button is out this week. Shaw draws the story of this family reunion with rare attention to detail, the lives of every family member young and old are explored with his nuanced pen. From the elegant cover to the closing panel, this is a powerful emotional story, and one I will recommend as an example of the heights graphic novels can attain.

In his own words, here is Dash Shaw's Book Notes essay for his graphic novel, The Bottomless Belly Button:

BBB is a book I did about a family reunion at a remote beach house. The beach is drawn like a desert, so it takes place in some weird Twilight Zone-like area. The story follows around all of the family members staying at the house over a six-day period.

There aren’t any references to music in the book and I don’t recall listening to any particular music genre/style/band for inspiration or anything like that. However, if there is a musical equivalent to the style of the book, I would say it’s like one of those minimal, synthesized soundtracks. Like what John Carpenter or Hal Hartley do for their movies. Those soundtracks rarely change tone- they just come in at the right moment and plod along and fade out.

Dash Shaw and The Bottomless Belly Button links:

the author's website
the author's blog
the author's Wikipedia entry
characters in the book
sample pages from the book
sample pages from the book

Boing Boing review
Book By Its Cover review
Brick Weekly review
The Comics Reporter review

Desktop Wallpaper Project contribution by the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for The Mother's Mouth
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for BodyWorld
Publishers Weekly profile of the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
directors and actors discuss their film's soundtracks
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2008 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)