Tag Archives: graphic memoir

Maybe an Artist, a Graphic Memoir Banner

Book Review: Maybe an Artist, by Elizabeth Montague

I accepted a review copy of Maybe an Artist, by Elizabeth Montague as part of it’s tour with TBR and Beyond Book Tours. The book was also featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight. So, you can hop over there for author/artist information and the official tour schedule.

Maybe an Artist, a Graphic Memoir

A heartfelt and funny graphic novel memoir from one of the first Black female cartoonists to be published in the New Yorker, when she was just 22 years old.

When Liz Montague was a senior in college, she wrote to the New Yorker, asking them why they didn’t publish more inclusive comics. The New Yorker wrote back asking if she could recommend any. She responded: yes, me.

Those initial cartoons in the New Yorker led to this memoir of Liz’s youth, from the age of five through college–how she navigated life in her predominantly white New Jersey town, overcame severe dyslexia through art, and found the confidence to pursue her passion. Funny and poignant, Liz captures the age-old adolescent questions of “who am I?” and “what do I want to be?” with pitch-perfect clarity and insight.

This brilliant, laugh-out-loud graphic memoir offers a fresh perspective on life and social issues and proves that you don’t need to be a dead white man to find success in art.

my review

I’m really into graphic memoirs right now. So, I was excited to get my hands on this. I thought it was a poignant, funny, super cute coming of age story. The art is perfect for the tone of the book. There is humor (especially round the passage of time) and I think a lot of young people will relate to the struggles Montague depicts.

I did kind of feel like starting the book with the events of 9/11 felt odd. I grasped that it marks the reader in time and was, of course, a salient experience for a lot of people that age. But it also felt abrupt and anchor-less, since we didn’t even know Montague  yet.

All in all, however, I enjoyed this though. I’ll be passing it to my 15-year-old next. She’s left-handed, starting to feel the strain of choosing a future life path, art-minded, and vacillating about whether to include it in her career plans. I think even people not sharing quite so many qualities with past Montague will get a lot out of this book. But I especially think my budding artist will.

photo maybe an artist

Other Reviews:

Maybe an Artist by Elizabeth Montague Blog Tour

Review: Maybe an Artist by Liz Montague


my alcoholic escape from reality

Book Review(ish): My Alcoholic Escape From Reality, by Nagata Kabi

I purchased a copy of My Alcoholic Escape from Reality, by Kabi Nagata from the local manga/graphic novel shop (Betty’s Books).

my alcoholic escape from reality
Nagata Kabi’s downward spiral is getting out of control, and she can’t stop drinking to soothe the ache of reality. After suffering from unbearable stomach pains, she goes to the hospital, where she is diagnosed with pancreatitis–and is immediately hospitalized. A new chapter unfolds in Nagata Kabi’s life, as she struggles to find her way back to reality and manga creation in the wake of her breakdown.

my reviewLike I’ve done with some of the Seven Seas light-ish novels I’ve read recently, I’m not going to consider this a real review. I really enjoy the occasional graphic memoir, but I’m not going to pretend I know enough about what goes into producing one or what the genre norms and standards are to be knowledgeable enough to ‘review’ it. So, instead, this is just my reaction to having read the media. And I enjoyed it…as much as you can ‘enjoy’ a memoir about someone’s spiral into and possibly out of alcoholism and chronic mental and physical health issues. But Nagata does a good job making the reader feel her fear, insecurities, and exasperation at her situation, as well as her professional and familial struggles to work through both. Then, the whole thing ends on a hopeful note. This is the first Nagata Kabi Graphic memoir/diary I’ve read. I guess I’ll have to go find her backlog now.

my alcoholic escape from reality photo

Other Reviews:

Sam Quixote: My Alcoholic Escape From Reality

Thoughts on <em>My Alcoholic Escape from Reality</em>


Cant We Talk about Something More Pleasant

Book Review of Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?, by Roz Chast

I won a signed copy of Roz Chast‘s Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? some time ago and then it got hurried on my book shelves. I finally rediscovered it.

Description from Goodreads:
In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast’s memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.

When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the “crazy closet”—with predictable results—the tools that had served Roz well through her parents’ seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed.

While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies—an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades—the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.

It’s really a shame it took me so long to read this because I…well, I was going to say really enjoyed it, but that’s not the right way to phrase what I mean. One doesn’t enjoy a heart-wrenching story of a woman trying to deal with the death of her parents. But I could relate to it. There is a certain raw, scraped bare quality to the book that I didn’t expect, especially from a graphic memoir. The reader really feels Chast’s pain at the loss of her father and her disconcertion when dealing with her mother. Plus, Chast admits to feels a lot of us have probably had about their parents, but would rather hide the deep recesses of our mind and deny exist. All in all, a good read.