fun home: a family tragicomic, by alison bechdel.
time magazine recently had a column on 5 great illustrated books, and i ordered this book as a result of that. the illustration style is absolutely wonderful — very much like “blankets“, by craig thompson (one of the best illustrated books i’ve read). the story is interesting also: it’s an autobiography, of a childhood in a small midwestern town, with a father who was a closeted homosexual. the author has her own coming out as a lesbian late in the book also. probably one of the most interesting passages is when she finds out her father is gay, just days after deciding she herself is gay, and how that timing makes her own story feel like a semi-comedic subplot to her father’s rather twisted story. i find all autobiographies worth reading, as they give such great insight into the human heart, the human condition, the human soul. bechdel is a good storyteller, and a great illustrator. there are a few graphic sexual pages, which limit my recommendation a bit; but otherwise, it’s an interesting read.
auschwitz, by pascal croci.
this is one of the five books i picked up in the bookstore at the u.s. holocaust memorial museum. it’s an oversized illustrated book, and i was captivated by the gorgeous black-and-white illustrations, as well as the discount price. really, it’s one of the most stunningly drawn illustrated books i’ve ever read. and there are compelling, powerful scenes. unfortunately, the gripping subject matter and the gorgeous illustrations couldn’t overcome the lack of an actual plot, or the awkward dissonance of the dialogue. and a minor issue that turned into a major annoyance for me was that the text (the comments, in talk bubbles) were set, rather than hand-lettered, and very poorly set at that. the poor guy who put this together took five years to do the illustrations, and the cheezy talk bubbles almost undoes it. i can only recommend this one for the beautiful graphics — nothing more. however, as holocause books go…
night, by elie wiesel.
holy cow. what a book. i’d heard of this book before (it’s assigned reading in so many high schools and colleges, and won a nobel peace prize). but i read it on the plane home from dc saturday (it’s a thin book — 115 pages, plus some worthwhile frontmatter and an afterword). it’s the first-person autobiographical narrative of a 15 year-old auschwitz survivor. most of the stuff isn’t new in 2006 — we’ve heard these kinds of stories now. but to read a first-person autobiography — especially from a teenager — well, it’s horrible and captivating and terrible and full of questions that just can’t be answered. this book must be read by every human being at some point in their life. really.