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Building Stories

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  5,932 ratings  ·  680 reviews
After years of sporadic work on other books and projects and following the almost complete loss of his virility, it's here: a new graphic novel by Chris Ware.
 
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
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Hardcover, 260 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Pantheon
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Community Reviews

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4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,932 ratings  ·  680 reviews


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David Schaafsma
4/12: I just finished this brilliant, brilliant "book" (that comes in a game box, larger than a Monopoly box), with various sizes and colors and shapes of books and magazines and flyers and a children's book and a game board. Why a game box, with a game board? To resuscitate, in part, the idea of reading as game, if not exactly fun (more on that later). I think the publication of Building Stories is one of the most important events in the history of graphic literature, an instant classic, but it ...more
Steve
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
The title Ware chose for this wonderful assemblage of art work and words makes me think about the many ways in which authors tell their tales. It also prompts thoughts on how we size people up. Ware’s creation gives us plenty to say about story-building and profiling. Context, the narrative arc, appeals to our emotions, structuring, and connections among characters and to our empathetic selves all enter into it.

You’ve no doubt seen the box that houses the contents. In it are 14 individual bookl
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MJ Nicholls
Beautiful box. Beautiful books and newspapers and foldout strips. An epic of the everyday. The graphic novel response to Ulysses, with all the humour and ebullience removed. Like B.S. Johnson’s book-in-a-box The Unfortunates, each of the separate components can be read in either order, and like that fine novel, each deal in part with loss and devastation and loneliness (and devastating loneliness). The protagonist of this novel is a miserable neurotic woman with an artificial shank whose entire ...more
Seth T.
Oct 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
[Note: this review looks much better on the site from which it comes. And has more pictures.]

Building Stories by Chris Ware
[There are an unexpected number of grocery shots in this book.]

Back in March 2011, during that year's Tournament of Books, I was introduced to what might be best described as a concept book. Nox is Anne Carson's literary project to unearth the identity of her recently-departed, long-estranged brother. Instead of pages of text bound between a front and back cover, Nox is a box containing a robust accordio
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Teresa
May 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

This work contains, in a beautiful carton, fourteen discrete pieces: one that looks like a Little Golden Book; another as large and colorful as the Sunday comics; and another with print so small I had to take off my glasses to read it, same for the few small illustrations along the inner side of the bottom part of the box. I read somewhere that the creator of this work says it can be read in any order and I'm sure that's true, as the work is anything but linear. I read it in the order t
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Eddie Watkins
Oct 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: manga-comics
While I comport myself in a solid even-keeled way, topped by a serious face, inside I ride waves of turbulent emotions. My inner moods pendulum between absolute cosmic bleakness and star-hopping ecstasy, with an occasional glide through stretches of dull unspecified sadness. The rest is routine involvement in those things I enjoy doing, and so could be called happiness I suppose, though looking at me few would know.

The stretches of dull unspecified sadness are the least interesting to me, thoug
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Christopher


Check out that photo above that I stole from Amazon. Isn't it pretty? It's a whole bunch of reading devices that fit into a colorful box. There's a hardbound book, there's a Little Golden Books-style book, a couple newspaper-sized comics, and several doodads and even two or three various whatchamajigs. It weighs in at six pounds.



This is the incredibly creative Building Stories by Chris Ware. In it, the reader discovers the lives of (mainly) four characters who share the same building. They're al
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First Second Books
I finally got my hands on BUILDING STORIES and was disappointed to discover that all of the reviews that called it a "ground-breaking new format where the reader connects the pieces to assemble an apartment building full of interlocking stories" weren't literal. Guys, I really thought this book was a kit to build an actual model building! I'm so bummed!
Alex
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
A collection of interwoven graphic stories meant to be shuffled and read in random order, Ware's Building Stories has gotten a lot of attention in 2013 as comic writing continues to sidle awkwardly past puberty like a wimpy kid hoping to get past a group of dicks with their hats backwards before they notice him and take his lunch money. Metaphors, bitch!

It's reasonably effective. The lead story here, about a young woman who's convinced her life is awful and then later is convinced it's awful in
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Ben Winch
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american, comics
A recent, happy holiday in Germany alone with my wife afforded me both a cheap copy of Building Stories (discovered, by some fluke, in a spa-town fleamarket) and the chance to read it, in collusion with my wife, over three quiet evenings with the various pieces of Chris Ware’s puzzle spread across the loungeroom floor. It was quite an experience. Some readers (my wife included) have suggested that Ware’s opus is depressing – Goodreader Eddie Watkins referred to Ware’s “Asperger’s of sadness” and ...more
Gary Anderson
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Where do we start? What do we do next? How do we make sense out of all this? With Chris Ware’s Building Stories, as with life, the answer seems to be, “Just keep going. It will all come together, probably.”

Building Stories is a challenging, rewarding reading experience. I can’t say book; I can’t say graphic novel; I can’t say comic. None of those words quite fit Building Stories. Chris Ware’s newest work is the story of woman’s life, and it comes in what looks like a game box, similar to Monopol
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Michael Seidlinger
Nov 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Inspiration, insanity, and sadness in one big box.

In essence:

Life.
John Seven
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
The problem with Building Stories is that while Ware is still a skilled and intelligent cartoonist, in context of his own work it doesn't really represent any kind of move forward. It's really more of the same, with razzle dazzle in the form of packaging. The characters are moribund and whiny, endlessly going on their gloomy, bitter monologues to the point where the whole venture becomes tiresome. Part of this is due to the fact that Ware relies less on his visuals and presentation to tell a sto ...more
Althea J.
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics, highly-rec
This book gets all the stars.

Wow! Not only a crazy-innovative, unconventional format for telling stories with sequential art, but the actual stories are substantive and brilliantly insightful, AND the art is simplistically fantastic.

Each story adds so much color, fleshing out the history of a woman's life. And Chris Ware uses the graphic format to penetrate life on the surface and get into this woman's head in a way that is unique to the medium he is using. I LOVE BOOKS THAT RAISE THE BAR OF WHA
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Pixelina
Nov 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
First impressions - Wow this is heavy!
Last impressions - Still heavy.
To label this as 'comics' as I did here is wrong on so many levels. But it is the word I picked for graphic novels, even though this is outside of that shelf too. This is like a box of melancholy, slices of lives lived in an apartment building in just on the outskirts of Chicago.

We follow the lives of the old landlady, the amputee woman dreaming of love, and of a young couple disappointed in how partnership turned out to be so
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Jeffrey
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
An amazing piece of art/literature that works on so many levels, absolutely brilliant and affecting and beautiful. From the box to each of the books/object within, each element works together and independently to build enough story for many years' worth of rewarding re-reads...
Alex Hern
Sep 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OH MY GOD
Josh
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, comics
Building Stories is a sprawling, obtuse, non-linear mess of a book, if it can even be called a book or any sort of unified narrative. It centers mostly around the life of a perfectly average woman who, like most of Ware's characters, spends most of her life being miserable. If you haven't heard of it or seen it, it's a set of 14 "distinctively discrete books, booklets, magazines, newspapers and pamphlets" that hails from the author of Jimmy Corrigan (probably the best comic book I've ever read), ...more
Chris Infanti
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A plot synopsis really doesn't do Building Stories justice. Chris Ware is telling a pretty simple story here - tracking the lives of a small collection of Chicago apartment dwellers over a 10 year period or so, with occasional flights of fancy in which the building itself is a character. Oh, and there's also a side story involving a bee named Branford. If you've read Ware's most well known comic, Jimmy Corrigan, you'll notice a lot of similarities: most prominently the trademark art style - intr ...more
Keith
Feb 13, 2013 rated it liked it
I remember my high school art teacher telling me a story once about when Bob Dylan met the Beatles for the first time at a party. According to my art teacher, Dylan saw the Four from across a room and sneered, "You guys have so much power, and you could do anything....and you choose to make this."

And in no way, obviously, could anything Chris Ware does be worthy of such vitriol. It's too smart, too intricate, too multi-faceted -- a monument to what craft, focus, and workmanship can create. And w
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James
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2014
I've not read many graphic novels where the protagonist didn't wear a cape or their underwear outside of their pants. With that confession out of the way I'd like to say that Chris Ware has done something special with the medium here.
His artwork is not lush; in fact it has a geometrical quality. Most of the panels are tiny, and large objects such as the building just provide another opportunity to showcase a lot of small panels.

The real story here is how Ware is able to use the compact panels
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Dianah
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
How to describe this strange yet wonderful box of loveliness? Building stories is odd, sweet, sad, beautiful and quixotic; yet that barely scratches the surface. Made up of what I can only guess are “chapters” in varied formats, with no true end or beginning, its sprawling size is a bit overwhelming straight out of the box. Yet the melancholy story of the tenants of an old building is fascinating despite (or, maybe because of) the fact that it’s a cartoon. It is an intimate look at the human con ...more
Alec Longstreth
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
It's amazing that Pantheon had the guts to publish this in the form it deserved. Chris Ware is one of a kind and we are very lucky that he uses comics to tell his stories. He pushes the boundaries of what is possible in the medium. I find his work incredibly inspiring. A project like this makes me want to work harder.
Shahrzad
Nov 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
اجرا خیلی جالب و متفاوته
جعبهای پر از کمیک در قطعات و اندازهها و شکلهای مختلف و داستانهای مرتبط به هم
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Edna
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"pink-cheeked and a little dowdy"
Einas Alhamali
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of this was emotional and relatable, but it was hard to read (although I'm sure that's the point). Still, I enjoyed it.
(Officially the book with which I finish my reading challenge!)
Dominick
Oct 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
It's hard to know what to say about this. On the one hand, it's a fascinating experiment: fourteen comics pieces, in various formats (including fold-out game board) and sizes (right up to newspaper size for two of the pieces), with no designated reading order. Therefore, readers to some extent "build" the story themselves by selecting the reading order. Ware probably has no equal when it comes to innovative page design. Many ways you might imagine a page being constructed or the panels being seq ...more
BHodges
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the first graphic novel I've ever read. I was completely captivated. This isn't silly or light; there's a lot of emotional depth here.

Building Stories is a collection of illustrated stories about people who at one point lived in a hundred-year-old rental building in Chicago. What stories would the buildings we occupy tell about us? It's also about how we spend our lives building our own stories about who we are, who we could be, and who we could've been.

Themes include loneliness, aging
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Dan
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I don't know why I keep reading Chris Ware's stuff. I know I'm going to wind-up depressed when I'm done reading, but I do it anyway. Maybe that's part of his genius. His comics/graphic novels alternate between whimsy (like "Quimby the Mouse") and something in the realm of literary fiction, and I eat it up. But much like some people do with popular fiction's most famous authors (i.e. Stephen King, John Grisham, even Nicholas Sparks), Mr. Ware releases something new and I say to myself, "Must get! ...more
Yehuda
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a really cool concept and a really great book. However, the story is kinda depressing and while it was super realistic and cool it was also kind of morose. So five stars on this super cool way to create a book. I don't even know whether to call this a graphic novel or not. I really loved this whole thing. However, only 3 stars on the story because there was really no message from it in the end and was kinda depressing for depression's sake or something.
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CHRIS WARE is widely acknowledged as the most gifted and beloved cartoonist of his generation by both his mother and seven-year-old daughter. His Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth won the Guardian First Book Award and was listed as one of the 100 Best Books of the Decade by the London Times in 2009. An irregular contributor to This American Life and The New Yorker (where some of the pages ...more
“The whole experience reminded me of my own 'old lady' phase that I went through in high school while I was reading Somerset Maugham... The embroidered sweaters, the costume jewelry... I remember genuinely WANTING to be old then, to act as if the business of my life was already all but over, and that I was preternaturally wise because of it...

God, the stupid things you'll do to try and meet boys...”
6 likes
“It's somehow more comforting to imagine that one's suffering is unique, and to measure against what one doesn't know, rather than against what one does.” 3 likes
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