What I’ve Been Reading – Blankets/Persepolis
Okay, before I start, let’s lay this on the table.
There may be nothing more refreshing for someone who’s fallen off of the Reading Wagon than plowing through a 600-page graphic novel in a few hours, and certainly nothing more rewarding than doing it twice in a week. There’s this feeling of All Caps ACCOMPLISHMENT paired with All Caps RELIEF, like a baseball player hitting his way out of a slump.
That being said, I was initially concerned that my love for these two books – especially Craig Thompson’s Blankets, which was the first book I’d finished in months – is coincidental to the situation: I finally finished something of some heft, and the afterglow is hazing my rationality.
Thankfully, there’s a case against this: both books are fantastic.
Blankets’ heart-twanging, emo-without-being-tragic nature – it’s McSweeney’s without the pretention and twee – keeps popping up in my mind, much as Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan continues to do. The power of the story resonates. The illustrations are burned into my brain. I am glad I was finally able to find a copy, and I don’t feel a bit of remorse in paying $20 for a book I rushed through and was finished with in three hours.
And Persepolis – itself not as much of a riveting narrative as much as a clear look at Iranian culture, personal growth and the fight for emotional freedom – gave me the kind of insight into foreign culture that I rarely stumble upon anymore. It is an intimate look at war, but it’s a look at war from the eyes of a child turned college student turned grown woman; the war itself becomes a character, not a focus, as Marjane pushes through life in spite of the constant bombings and prejudice.
I won’t pretend to be any kind of graphic novel connoisseur, but these two things are true: Blankets is a beautiful story framed by beautiful illustration, and Persepolis is an important story framed by important context.
Yeah. I’m pretty impressed, and not just with myself. For once.