but if you need more convincing, here are some thoughts from someone who is not an industry superstar and hasn’t gotten much sleep lately.
this is truly one of the best books i have ever read, and i don’t mean just in the graphic novel category – i mean all books/all time. however, this story could not have been told as well sans artwork – the two components twine together into this perfectly symbiotic storytelling entity with each mode taking on equal weight. it’s an absolutely visceral reading experience and i’m slack-jawed by how ambitious it is and how well it succeeds. i read this monster in one intense session that left me feeling completely scooped out inside. i was so deeply immersed in this world that “coming back” was a near-physical jolt, and that kind of thing rarely happens to me, but i loved it.
i’d heard nothing but praise for this book, and it was selling from the store like extremely heavy hotcakes, but i was reluctant to buy it because forty dollars for a paperback is pretty steep, especially since many graphic novels, even the long ones, can be read in under an hour and then are just one more thing in your rearview. but eventually, i broke down and lugged the hefty beast home and kept it near the bedcave for whenever i’d be in the mood for a long-ass picture book.
and one night i was and within ten pages i was hooked.
this book is absolutely everything i could have wanted in a book and it is now so much more than “one more thing in my rearview.” i don’t even know if i can do the story any justice, but it’s easy enough to sell the art – bearing in mind that someone who knows more about art that i do would be able to use all the impressive art-words, but i will do my best.
it’s really fucking good!
no, but seriously – this woman kills it all over town.
there’s realistic stuff
REALLY cartoony stuff
stuff that’s mostly realistic but has cartoony details and proportions
and she also does a mean homage to pulp horror magazines
and reproductions of paintings so famous, even i recognize them, so forgery would not be a bad second career choice for her
the range of styles is technically impressive and it also broadens the visual interest and enhances the reader’s take on the characters’ moods and inner lives. and if that weren’t enough, this variegated quality is mirrored in the writing – she has a facility writing across themes and tones and emotions and genres and subject matters and has created a work with a profoundly emotional texture that will make you laugh at its odd and perfect descriptions
and also cry (or feel the urge to cry, which is unusual enough for me) at a small expression of grief happening quietly in a corner of a larger grief tapestry.
she also writes outsider characters so freaking well, and not just limited to one kind of outsider experience, but all those little bits of physical difference or details or flaws or mistakes less-evident-to-others that set us apart or make us feel alone – there’s a character in here for that. which made it feel similar to Infinite Jest to me, but only in that one aspect. this isn’t a true panoply because it’s essentially told through one voice/perspective, but the range of encountered characters and the heavy smog of loneliness definitely made me think of IJ.
because this is blisteringly emotive stuff.
it’s haunting and it bleeds but it is also celebratory and basically it is everything ever including cats
but NOT the circus.
i could go on and on, but it makes more sense for you to just go read it now and review it better than i have. it’s great, and it’s only the first part of what is either one or two more books – sources vary.
this is one of the best books i have ever read. hopefully i can get back into the spirit of reviewing, because this book certainly deserves all of my sloppily enthusiastic verbal leg-humping, but i’m just a husk these days. i got one last rally in me. somewhere.