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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

J LHLS Archives: March 2004

Friday, March 12, 2004

I Never Liked You
by Chester Brown
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
ISBN: 1-896597-14-9

I bought this book at APE, so it's not really swag. I had wanted it for a long time - I believe the first edition came out in 1994 - but somehow I never got around to buying it. But there it was at the Drawn and Quarterly table and it went into the bag with the new Optic Nerve. Now I'm happy.

This is the second edition of this collection, somewhat pompously titled "The New Definitive Edition" (okay, whatever). The blurb at D&Q calls this "a harrowing memoir", but I don't think that's true: it is a story elegantly told, full of raw emotions that remain unexpressed, one that captures the strange isolation of adolescence. But I wouldn't call it harrowing. Chester Brown seems to have had a typical suburban white boy growing-up experience, full of silences and secrets; bad things happen, but nothing is connected, and nobody bothers to explain things to you. I thought his mother, who first appears on page 13, was a single parent, until his dad showed up on page 56 - another feature of suburban white-boy childhood. Brown perfectly captures the insane circle of crushes, attractions, and repulsions that are part of everyone's teenage years. What I think I like best is that he never excuses himself, or resorts to "poor me" apologies - "Chester" is just as confused and mean as his friends. Brown's drawing style is at once realistic and exaggerated - faces are beautifully rendered, but hands look like claws, bodies and legs are impossibly skinny, one girl's breasts are of Luba-sized proportions - all of which brings out the remembered quality of each vignette. It is a lovely book, and Chester Brown is courageous to put into art his own story, at once so mundane and yet unique.

Posted by Laurel Sutton @ 05:12 PM PST [Link]

Sunday, March 7, 2004

2004 Alternative Press Expo Swag Review: The Fixer, published by Drawn & Quarterly, ISBN 1896597602

I have this odd problem with Joe Sacco's drawing: If I think about it, I don't like it. However, when I look at it, I like the dark, moody landscapes and interiors very much and the rest does the narrative job well enough. I'm sure this is just my problem and not the drawing and certainly not the story, which is truly amazing.

Originally, I thought I had something to say about "The Fixer", but then read this review at iComics and this review at PopMatters and realized that I have nothing to add to them. Although, having nothing to do with Sacco or his work, I do wonder why the defense of Sarajevo was left to what seem to my untrained eye to be sociopaths. But any port in a storm, I suppose. Serendipitously, this month's Current History has an article by John R. Lampe entitled "The Lessons of Bosnia and Kosovo for Iraq", wherein Mr. Lampe completely misses the point that the US could and is doing some good in Bosina and Kosovo because, unlike Iraq, we were not the original aggressor in those countries. In my quotidian life, Bosina, Kosovo, Iraq are just places on the map. However, reading "The Fixer" and looking at the bloodied bodies and blasted homes of the citizens of Sarajevo has made at least one of those places more real for me.

Now, who's going to tell Baghdad's story?
The Fixer

Posted by Ginger Mayerson @ 02:23 PM PST [Link]

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