Well books isn’t really accurate. There is a proper book that comes in the set, but there are also newspapers, flip books, a book built like a children’s book, posters, a presentation board and pamphlets.
The format itself is a celebration of print media of all types. But it’s more than that. The back of the box features a diagram of where you can put each piece of “Building Stories” in your home.
And the narrative of the individual pieces reflects that. There is no beginning to “Building Stories,” not in a traditional sense anyway. There’s also no end. It’s just a loose collection of narratives, suspended in time, as if you were peaking through a window, building a narrative arc about the glimpses you’ve caught of these peoples lives.
And those glimpses concern people who have lived in this building and their affected lives.
People love and fight. They experience joy and happiness and what — to the characters at that time — must seem perpetual loneliness.
But lives change. And regardless of what order you read the various pieces of “Building Stories,” the capricious changes in the characters’ lives are highlighted despite the characters always feeling as if they are stuck or in a rut.
And the intimate details of the three tenants’ lives are drawn in clear, if cartoon-y, detail. Fair warning: There is a bit of nudity — mostly simple, non-sexual stuff as people go on about their lives — and some sex, but nothing that’s drawn in detail, and nothing I would consider to be pornographic. It’s never gratuitous or in bad taste.
The name “Building Stories” also works on a meta level. The over-arcing story structure is literally built by the reader. Every one will have a different experience because they will read pieces in different orders and have different things revealed to them in different orders. It creates a flux of dramatic irony, because there are things the reader might know at some points that make certain things ironic, and then again, the reader might not have gotten to that point yet, and may miss the irony. It basically begs for certain pieces to be read and re-read constantly.
The comic panels, like compartmentalized pieces of time in this building of a narrative, all add to a great experience for the reader.
TimesDaily Staff Writer Bobby Bozeman can be reached at 256-740-5722 or bobby.bozeman@TimesDaily.com. His review column is published the fourth Friday of each month.