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The past couple years have been great for the graphic novel. The genre is ripe for young artists willing to experiment, to push boundaries, to mold the tradition into their own vision. With continued exposure and recognition from ‘old guard’ traditionalists, 2012 promises to be another stellar year for the graphic novel and comic serial. Here’s a look ahead.
Families. They’re an unrelenting source of literary inspiration—full of conflict, misunderstandings, moments of grace, epiphanies, silences, fractures. Families pull and push us; form and reform us. Family relationships are usually at the heart of my favorite novels, and these relationships tend to be a bit messy. After all, unhappy families are unhappy in their own ways (my paraphrase).
It could be said that Eleanor Henderson’s debut novel Ten Thousand Saints is about ten thousand different things—addiction, adoption, family, hedonism, asceticism, AIDS, poverty, and homelessness—to name a few. A brief synopsis cannot really describe the sensory-overload of this tightly-packed 400 page novel.
I just watched Nicholas Refn’s film Valhalla Rising . I’m not quite sure what I think about it other than it seemed to be a maniacal meditation on violence and savagery. A hallucination of hellish visions and hellish men performing hellish deeds. And yet, I do not believe this disqualifies it as objectionable or that it can only be enjoyed by those with questionable tastes, or, well, psychopaths.
One of my favorite novelists is Louise Erdrich. I love the way she writes about families—with unflinching honesty, but also with empathy and sensitivity. In her novels, despair exists alongside hope, and even the most broken characters are always three-dimensional. In Jean’s Thompson new book The Year We Left Home, I’ve found the closest read-alike to Louise Erdrich, yet.