Friday, May 10, 2013

Reader's Diary #1000- Craig Thompson: Blankets

First off, I should explain why I won't be making a big deal over the fact that this is my 1000th Reader's Diary entry. Truly, if it was the 1000th book or short story I've blogged about I probably would be honouring it as some sort of milestone. However, in the early days of this blog (which began in December of '05) I used to blog about books before I finished them. I'd read a chapter or two, blog, read a bit more. It was more personal, more of an actual diary entry versus a review, but it was also more time consuming, it was hard to maintain the interest of any of my own readers, and even harder to link to a half dozen entries on a single book. Anyway, the point I'm making is that you can probably knock off a couple hundred or so Reader's Diaries if you're trying to get a more accurate picture of how much I've read over the life of this blog. Not that anyone is.

Back to the matter at hand: Craig Thompson's graphic novel, Blankets. Over at the Graphic Novels Challenge blog, the motto is given "comics: not a genre." While I'd agree, there seem to be a lot of graphic novels written in very specific genres. Besides the obvious superhero books, there's an amazing number of graphic memoirs/autobiographies, and even more specific, graphic novels set in the Middle East. Blankets falls into that middle, memoir category.

Craig, however, is the most innocent, moral character I've come across in any previous memoirs. Not that the others have been deviants, but Craig even makes my teenage years seem rebellious in comparison. It's a complex coming-of-age story. While most pages are dedicated to a love story about Craig and a girl named Naima, I'd be hesitant to say that was the focus on the book. Certainly religion and Craig's waning faith is of equal, if not greater importance to the development of his character. His relationship with his family also plays a significant part. As does sexual abuse. There's a lot going on, but at nearly 600 pages Thompson is able to work all of it in seamlessly, without rushing or creating a complicated mess. And while it sounds like it'd possible be too heavy, there are some hysterical moments, some mildly amusing moments, and some down right touching moments to help break the intensity.

The artwork took some getting used to. This will sound really nit-picky but I hated the way he drew mouths so much that I found it distracting at the beginning. Everyone seemed to have jagged holes for mouths with little to no definition at all. Once I got over that however, I liked the rest. Especially when he would occasionally veer into more surreal, artistic expression to capture a mood— done just infrequently enough to give those moods and expression real impact.

It's really a wonderful book and I can understand easily why Time magazine listed it among their top 10 books of the decade in 09.


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