Tag Archives: graphic novel

Review of Janes in Love, by Cecil Castellucci & Jim Rugg

I bought a copy of Janes in Love, by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg. Technically, it was for my daughter, but whatever.

Description from Goodreads:
The art attacks continue in this sequel to the acclaimed graphic novel THE PLAIN JANES. The coolest clique of misfits ever plays Cupid and becomes entangled in affairs of the heart. P.L.A.I.N. – People Loving Art In Neighborhoods – goes global when the art gang procures a spot in the Metro City Museum of Modern Art Contest. And the Janes will discover that in art and love, the normal rules don’t always apply.

I admit that when I picked this up I didn’t realize it is a sequel. And, reading it, I did feel the lack of having read book one. But it is followable. I thought it was nice the way the girls (and their tag along gay friend) support each other and stick to their guns to do their art (as in Do Your Thing). There’s a notably diverse cast and platonic male/female friendships (even in a book about Valentines Day). But I also thought it rushed (even for a graphic novel plot) and a little scattered. Plus, the villain is ridiculously depthless.  All in all, not bad though.

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.

Review: Franz Kafka’s The Trial: A Graphic Novel, adapted by David Zane Mairowitz & Illustrated by Chantal Montellier

This was something a little different. I stopped at a local coffee shop, The Webster Groves Garden Cafe, and they had The Trial (Illustrated Classics): A Graphic Novel on the shelf. On a whim, I picked it up and gave it a read while I drank my latte. No real thought or planning went into the decision, it was just there and I read it rather than the proverbial cereal box.

Description from Goodreads:
“Someone must have been slandering Joseph K, because one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was suddenly arrested.”

The Trial is a graphic adaptation of Franz Kafka’s famous novel, illustrated by one of France’s leading graphic artists, Chantal Montellier. Montellier brilliantly captures both the menace and the humor of Kafka’s utterly unique masterwork. This darkly humorous tale follows Joseph K, who is arrested one morning for unexplained reasons and forced to struggle against an absurd judicial process. K finds himself thrown from one disorientating encounter to the next as he becomes increasingly desperate to prove his innocence in the face of unknown charges. In its stark portrayal of an authoritarian bureaucracy trampling over the lives of its estranged citizens, The Trial is as relevant today as ever.

I’ve come to the conclusion that graphic adaptations of books, even famous books, just shouldn’t be read unless you’ve read the original. They make great accompaniments, but never seem to stand on their own. This one is no different. It has a distinct style and you get a sense of the story, but it doesn’t really give you enough meat to truly understand the it. As something I picked up on a whim, while sitting in a coffee shop, it did the job of keeping me from being bored and I don’t regret reading it, but I can’t say it really impressed me much.