Thursday, September 15, 2016

Reader's Diary #1380- Geneviève Castrée: Susceptible

Just back in July of this year, Canada lost a wonderful young talent (cartoonist and musician) named Geneviève Castrée to pancreatic cancer. If Susceptible is any indication, we also lost a lovely individual.

In the vein of other autobiographical less-than--ideal-childhood tales, Castrée gives a very open and honest account of growing up in 80's Quebec as the daughter of a mother who has her own issues (not the least of which is immaturity), an emotionally negligent step-dad, and a biological dad whom she barely remembers and lives on the other side of the country.

I say open and honest and I'm reminded of an article I once read chastising David Smalls for being unfair and one-sided to his mother in Stitches (a harrowing account of a REALLY messed-up childhood). I believe that Castrée, despite everything, finds the humanity in her mother and biological dad, not so much her mom's boyfriend but perhaps sometimes a turd just can't be polished. The line I appreciated the most, however, despite the praise I've heard for her openness and despite the critics of memoir comics who find them too self-indulgent, occurred when Castrée was recounting an early boyfriend of her own. The scene shows a makeshift blanket-tent and above Castrée writes, "We draw inside of it and do other things which aren't too serious but I still want to keep them private." I found this to be tremendously endearing and by holding back I think it says even more about her character.

The art is good. The characters themselves reminded me of Nicole Rubel's Rotten Ralph illustrations, which is to say not so much realistic but consistently stylized. It's black and white but patterns and water-colour grayscale adds a lot of depth. The writing is all in cursive, which does add an intimate feel, but it's quite small. (This is my 2nd complaint about small text in 3 days. Perhaps I'm getting old!)


Buried In Print said...

I had to squint fiercely at this one too (equally old!) but I really loved it. It was worth the squint-lines!

gypsysmom said...

Due entirely to your review I took this book out of the library. Wow! I'm no expert on the drawing but the writing was touching and astonishing. I was reminded of Heather O'Neill's book Lullabies for Little Criminals but I think the graphic novel setting made even more impact.

John Mutford said...

Buried in Print: True!

Gypsysmom: That means a lot to me!!! Thank-you for sharing!