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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Reader's Diary #679- Von Allan: the road to god knows...

Late last year, Canadian Book Challenge participant Pooker boldly asked graphic novelist Von Allan if he'd donate a couple of his books as a challenge prize. He did, I ran a contest, and another CBC participant, Wanda, won it. Upon announcing the winner I commented that it took a lot of restraint on my part not to read it first. I swear I wasn't hinting for a favour, but Wanda very generously offered that I read it first, before shipping it off, and I gratefully accepted-- trying my hardest not to bend the spine too much, smudge it with potato grease and so on. Hopefully Wanda will find it in tip top shape.

the road to god knows... is a story of a girl coping with the emotional ups and downs and unpredictability of living with a schizophrenic mother.

However, it doesn't really start off that way and I think that's why I enjoyed it. At first the story seems to be about whether or not Marie, a sweet but somewhat outcast girl, will earn enough cash to attend a professional wrestling event with her best friend. But then the story is essentially hijacked by her mother's mental illness. I imagine this must be exactly how it feels for some children whose parents suffer such ailments. It's sad and heavy, but fortunately Von Allan adds enough hope and light to lighten the load without resorting to unrealistic cures or schmaltzy sitcom embraces.

I wasn't totally crazy about the art, however. Stylistically, it's similar to Daniel Clowes' work on Ghost World, except something about the poses and movement seemed stiff and awkward. Walking people looked posed and gestures occasionally seemed strange or out of sync with the emotion being conveyed. It was distracting, to be sure, but fortunately not enough to ruin the story.

4 comments:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

One should always read the book before passing it along! Unless it's a porn magazine.

As a new recruit to the wonders of the graphic novel (Essex County), I am certainly interested in looking into this one. I am fascinated by how much can be conveyed with a few lines and a couple of words.

John Mutford said...

Barbara: There was a used book store in St. John's that used to sell those. Right there on the front counter. Used. Shudder...

Wanda said...

Not only did it arrive in tip top shape but it came wrapped in another edition of The Yellowknifer, thanks John!

I quite liked this one as well, and I know what you mean about the awkwardness of some of the poses. However, I just assumed they were a reflection of how Marie must be feeling and didn't find it distracting at all.

Wanda said...

*Note to Self: Stay out of used book stores when visiting Newfounfland!

I'll get there one day ... my youngest is wanting to go now too with all the great tourisim commercials that have been airing here in N.S. lately.