Chris Ware
Pantheon Books, New York, 2012, English
Fiction, Comics and Graphic Novels
11.7 x 16.6 inches, hardcover, 260 pages, color illustrations
ISBN: 9780375424335
Suggested Retail Price: $50.00

From the Publisher. Building Stories imagines the inhabitants of a three-story Chicago apartment building: a 30-something woman who has yet to find someone with whom to spend the rest of her life; a couple, possibly married, who wonder if they can bear each other’s company another minute; and the building’s landlady, an elderly woman who has lived alone for decades. Taking advantage of the absolute latest advances in wood pulp technology, Building Stories is a book with no deliberate beginning nor end, the scope, ambition, artistry and emotional prevarication beyond anything yet seen from this artist or in this medium, probably for good reason.

On 2 book lists
John Hill

Chris Ware has had a thing for buildings for a while now, witnessed by Jimmy Corrigan, set against the backdrop of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and his collaboration with Ira Glass and Tim Samuelson on Lost Buildings, about Louis Sullivan and preservation in the same city. His latest, like George Perec’s Life: A User’s Manual, reveals the fictitious lives of a single building’s inhabitants by hybridizing a graphic novel with architectural drawings, a board game, pamphlets, and other formats. It is less a book than a world within a box, 14 “easily misplaced elements” without a beginning, an end, or a predetermined order. It is a melancholy treasure whose handmade panels beg to be handled.

Debbie Millman

Chris Ware’s latest book isn’t really a book at all; it is 14 individual books full of ennui, stacked inside a box—14 books that tell the interlocking stories of the residents of a Chicago apartment building. The 14 pieces in Building Stories includes a game board, a newspaper, two hardcover books, and various ephemera filled with lonely, frustrated people aching for connection. There’s the one-legged thirty-something woman, who is also the central character, living on the top floor, frustrated with her husband, gaining weight, and wondering what happened to her dreams. There is a lonely old landlady living on the ground floor, a couple living on the middle floor with relationship problems, and Branford, The Best Bee In The World, who is truly a thinking bee. The design is not limited to the story or the presentation of the book; it is central to the narrative. Building Stories is remarkable, and sets the stage for an entirely new way of storytelling.

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