Thursday, January 15, 2009

But you take what you should have left and leave what you should have grabbed

Jonathan Ames is a novelist and essayist who is not unwilling to write graphically about the sexual and the scatological. He is also, apparently, not afraid to rake himself across the coals. His graphic novel the Alcoholic is a remarkably clear eyed look at a life constructed out of bad choices. The main character is one Jonathan A. who discovers the joys of boozing as a teen and carousing becomes a central facet of his life.

The tone of the book is a mix of humor and reflective horror. Jonathan damages the most important people in his life, not in a dramatic Lifetime fashion, but through solipsistic neglect and crazed infatuation. The drugs and alcohol take a toll on his health as well. He also has a eye for the bizarre. In the opening panels, Jonathan wakes up in the front seat of a car next to remarkably short elderly woman with a frightening seat of teeth. She remarks it has been quite some time since she has gotten any action and gets ready for some. These off the wall encounters happen throughout.

Dean Haspiel drew the art and it works quite well. He is adept at portraying emotion as well as the farcical, as when Jonathan A gets a bad case of the runs in France and makes a unsuccessful dash for the facilities.

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