15 September 2011

Another book painting

The Alex Awards are given every year by the American Library Association to 10 books written for adults that have special appeal for teens. One of 2009’s Alex Award-winners was Sharp Teeth, by Toby Barlow.

You hear the word “werewolf” these days, and if you are teen-friendly (or movie-savvy), your thoughts immediately jump to the Twilight franchise (Team Jacob). But that’s not this book at all. Although many of the characters in the book are lycanthropes—shapeshifters—it is not the most important part of the story. While it is significant that the characters are able to turn into wolf-dogs, the story is about so much more than physical identity. Set in the streets and hills of Los Angeles and roaming down into Mexico, it follows a meandering trail amongst such characters as a kindly dogcatcher, a battered wife, a pair of bridge-playing bully boys, a curious cop, and some distinctly unsavory drug dealers. It explores the complexities of loyalty, loss and love in a truly poetic fashion. And Sharp Teeth
is written in free verse, with a broad, epic feel to it reminiscent of Homer. I always hesitate to use the word “unique,” but I can’t think of another book like it. It’s dark and violent, humorous, sweet and touching.

I painted this because the teens in our high school book club chose it for next month's book; then we couldn't get it, so we had to choose something else. I'm hoping we read it later in the year.

This painting feels unfinished, but I'm not sure what else it needs. Background? spatter? more details? I may go back in and tweak it some more--I did it on a day I didn't have to be at work until noon, but the 11 a.m. deadline to get ready to go put a time limit on what I could accomplish. But I decided to go ahead and post it, and go back to it later with some distance.

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