Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Reader's Diary #1276- Jennifer Hayden: The Story of My Tits

Wanting to get completely out of my comfort zone for a while, I thought Jennifer Hayden's graphic novel The Story of My Tits might accomplish that. It did and was exactly what I wanted: a perspective I'm not used to reading.

The Story of My Tits runs that fine line between memoir and autobiography. It has that more defined focus of a memoir (i.e., her tits), but also encompasses Hayden's entire life up to recovering  and moving on from a double masectomy. At times, tits are not the focus and instead Hayden reflects upon the complication navigation of relationships. Still, all of these relationships will come to bear upon her reaction to her diagnosis (both her mother and mother-in-law also had breast cancer) and her recovery.

It's extremely personal and I'm not sure that it would have felt as sincere otherwise, but I couldn't help but wonder about the feelings of some of those she wrote about in less than flattering lights. Granted, she acknowledges at the beginning have changed some names, dates, and even characters, but you just know there are some people out there saying, "hey, that's me!"

For such a heavy topic, there's also a surprising (and welcomed) dose of humour.

The art was interesting. There's definitely more work gone into the backgrounds, with hatching, cross-hatching and the like, while the characters themselves are very simple. I admit getting distracted quite often by Jennifer's long, beak-like nose (it's especially awkward when she's shown kissing her husband). I didn't quite get that, especially as there's a photo of the author on the back and her nose in real life is quite normal. Was it purely style? Was it self-deprecating? I'm not sure. Still, the wide-eyed and simple expressions did fit the story and its sense of bigger surprised by and having to decipher some much larger, complex issues.

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