Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Everyone has watched the TV show, and basically everyone was disappointed by the ending, but I feel as if the book avoids that criticism. Well, the first one does, anyway. While it is unnecessarily edgy at times, the portrayal of Dexter here is far more playful and sarcastic than in the adaptation, leading to an overall entertaining experience– even if you get the feeling throughout the book that what you’re reading is completely unbelievable. Although the novel has some interesting social commentary, the writing quality feels almost like young adult fiction at times in its simplicity (which I’d usually avoid), making this a guilty pleasure for me.

Jack Oxford

Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth

If I were to write, in an academic paper, that Batman has just as much literary significance as Jane Eyre, chances are I would be laughed at. Yet, Morrison’s ‘Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth’ is an exemplary piece of literature that shows even the superhero-genre can be ‘literary’. 

It begins as a typical Batman story would: the inmates, under the Joker, have overtaken the asylum and are demanding Batman. Soon, however, it devolves into a paranoid exploration of madness and Jungian psychology, with Batman’s villains representing our unconscious fears and psychoses, while subtextually positing the argument (bastardising Larkin’s beliefs towards churches set out in ‘Church Going’, from which the title is derived) that madness will always underlie each of our ‘sane’ psyches. All this is complemented by McKean’s grotesquely beautiful artwork, which feels like it’s pulled out of a surrealist nightmare. 

This is not your typical Batman story: this is a story about what makes the human race disturbing. This is a story about the things that we like to bury away in asylums and call ‘mad’ but may, in fact, be lurking closer to each of us than we would like to admit.

Alex Grenfell