Saturday, December 13, 2008

Best-Loved Books of 2008, #13: Favorite graphic novel memoir

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Freddie and Me: A Coming-of-Age (Bohemian) Rhapsody by Mike Dawson (Bloomsbury)
(bonus: up-and-coming author/artist)

When Mike Dawson spoke at our store, he opined that, in an era of CGI special effects, superheroes are better on the big screen -- which leaves memoir as the form best suited to comics. Bechdel and Spiegelman prove his point, and Dawson adds a doozy to the ranks of graphic memoir with his dreamy, episodic, gently self-deprecating story of a British kid in America obsessed with the band Queen. It's really a meditation on what we remember from our lives and why. It's also lovely and funny for anyone who was ever a self-dramatizing adolescent (Dawson confessed that much of the dialogue and narration was taken from his own terribly moody teenage diaries), or for anyone who loved a band so much they found it told the narrative of their lives. A great gift for fans of comics, music, or memoir.


David de Beer said...

which leaves memoir as the form best suited to comics.

eh? could you expand on that a bit please?

Book Nerd said...

Hey David,

Mike said it better than me, but the jist of it was that comics move forward image by image, in much the way that memory does -- there might be a lot of detail or a little, and there are lots of gaps in between. Things can move at different speeds, or you can dwell on one image for a long time. His argument is that this is why comics are so conducive to memoir, and why some of the contemporary greats -- Art Spiegelman, Alison Bechdel, Marjane Satrapi -- are telling stories of memory using the graphic novel format. But you can ask Mike about it -- he's at

David de Beer said...

that does make sense, when put like that, although memoirs are my least liked form of graphic novels. I know people rave about Harvey Pekar? but I've never been able to get into his stories.
anyways, I'll go see what Mike has to say about it. Thanks!