This morning I FINALLY got around to reading the entirety of Chris Ware's Building Stories. Building Stories originally came out in October of 2012 and it's really surprising that I haven't read this prior to today, especially as Chris Ware is one of my favorite sequential art writer / artists. I think a part of me knew, based on the emotional drain that one gets from reading Ware's work, that Building Stories would have to wait until a great block of time could be devoted to it.
Building Stories, is a GIANT boxed production housing (pun intended) many different parts that combine into one graphic novel, HUGE fold out comics that are bigger than Sunday newspaper comics, small comic booklets, over-sized 16-25 page comics, and two hardcover "conventional" graphic novelettes. There is no directional key to direct the reader as to which way Building Stories should be read, so I just chose to read the big fold outs and little booklets first and ended with the two longer hardcover graphic novelettes (all of the various pieces of Building Stories are inter-connected and there's probably no right or wrong order in which to read them, but I'd recommend ending with the two hardcover books).
Anyone who has ever read any any Chris Ware graphic novel knows that he tells just about the saddest stories you'll ever read. Ware does this with every new graphic novel he does, but at the same time, all of these stories are different. Building Stories is mostly about this young woman (never named) who has an artificial leg, through various stages and experiences in her life. She leads a pretty uneventful life, sad (of course) life. This is all related throughout Building Stories in very interwoven ways, but also done somehow in beautiful minute detail fashion. Chis Ware's art, which often takes the form of many many panels per page, has always been terrific at showing a character's day to day activities, but he's really refined his prose in Building Stories to enhance the existential details of his characters. Actually the two hardcover books included in Building Stories also have pages in which the building / buildings narrate themselves as if they were living entities (and in a lot of ways they could be considered as such) and this is a further bonus to the experience that reading Building Stories is.
Yes, it can be exhausting reading about the unrelenting sadness that permeates Building Stories and Chris Ware's other works, such as his Acme Novelty Library graphic novels, but they are also rewarding as they will get you to reflect on your life, people around you, and how you interact with and treat others.