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Brooklyn Dreams Paperback – April 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: DC Comics (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401200516
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401200510
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,081,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On an ordinary night in an ordinary Brooklyn neighborhood in the 1960s, Vincent Carl Santini, alienated high school senior and budding philosopher, meets his guardian angel in the form of a stray dog. It takes the length of this book to tell readers why this hound is so special, and details are still murky at story's end. But Carl spins such a madly glorious tale of the confusion and transcendence of his teen years that readers may excuse his wanderings. DeMatteis's story is hypnotic, and Barr's b&w artwork keeps pace with the plot's twists, swooping from pencil to watercolor to ink as he captures the wild enthusiasms and fears of Carl's world. The book begins with Carl depicted as a Masterpiece Theater sort of narrator, sitting alone in a chair, waiting to raise the curtain on his senior year in high school. The set is an archetypal apartment building in a solidly middle-class neighborhood. The cast includes Carl, his best friend and Carl's volatile family. His father is a brash, emotional Italian; his mother is a nervous Jew. Sixteen-year-old Carl mostly sits on his stoop and reads, as jaded with life as only a teenager can be. The stray appears and Carl adopts it, but gives it away at the local police precinct. A few weeks later he's back at the station, this time taken in for drug possession. In between these two episodes, Carl recalls earlier memories of friends, the black humor of his Uncle Fred's funeral, his parents' bottomless capacity for melodrama, and life's meaning.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In this chunky graphic novel, fortyish Vincent Carl Santini recalls his senior year (1970-71) in high school. But first he retreats to August, before school opened, when he adopted a scruffy dog his parents quickly made him give up, before advancing a little into senior year and the time he got arrested while carrying drugs. By the time he is through with those stories, the book is three-quarters over. He can't help digressing, you see, to tell us about his Jewish mother and Italian Catholic father; how he was known as Carl, not Vincent; his best friend "Shane"; his fear of death; and his strong religious sensibility, despite his boredom with Judaism and Catholicism. Each digression is richly detailed and packed with humor, as are the stories they augment, which finally include those of his honors English class, the first girl he really loved, and the hilariously anticlimactic "trip" during which he discovered "the key to the universe" (actually, his first real sense of himself in the world). To contrast the narrator's present and the narrative's past, Barr draws the adult Santini realistically and young Carl as a caricature, filling both styles with expressive gestures varying from the explosive to the nuanced. As graphically distinguished and creatively novelistic a graphic novel as has ever been, this is a classic of the form. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Eisner Award winner J. M. DeMatteis was a professional musician and rock music journalist before entering the comic book field. Although he's written almost all of the major DC and Marvel icons -- including critically-lauded runs on Justice League International and Spider-Man (the epic "Kraven's Last Hunt" was voted the number one story in Spider-Man's fifty year history by Comic Book Resources), DeMatteis's greatest acclaim has come for sophisticated original graphic novels like Seekers Into The Mystery, Blood: A Tale, The Last One, and Mercy. The autobiographical Brooklyn Dreams was picked by the ALA as one of the Ten Best Graphic Novels and Booklist, in a starred review, called it "as graphically distinguished and creatively novelistic a graphic novel as has ever been...a classic of the form." The groundbreaking Moonshadow was chosen (along with Brooklyn Dreams, Blood and other DeMatteis works) for inclusion in Gene Kanenberg, Jr's 2008 book 500 Essential Graphic Novels -- where it was hailed as one of the finest fantasy graphic novels ever created.

His success in the comic book medium has led DeMatteis to work in both television (writing live action and animation) and movies (creating screenplays for Fox, Disney Feature Animation, directors Carlo Carlei and Chris Columbus and producer Dean Devlin, among others).

More recently DeMatteis has had great success with the children's fantasy series Abadazad (hailed by Entertainment Weekly as "...one of those very rare fantasy works that can enchant preteen kids and 40-year old fanboys..."), The Life and Times of Savior 28 (called "one of the finest super hero stories of the decade" by Newsarama) and the novel Imaginalis (which Publishers Weekly praised as "a sure-footed fantasy" with a "hopeful message about the power of reading and belief.")

Current projects include the upcoming all-ages fantasies The Adventures of Augusta Wind and The Edward Gloom Mysteries; writing for Cartoon Network's Teen Titans Go (set to debut in 2013); his ongoing Imagination 101 workshops, which explore the practicalities and metaphysics of writing for comics, graphic novels and animation; and Creation Point, a story consultation service that offers in-depth guidance for both the professional and aspiring writer.

DeMatteis and his family live in upstate New York. His blogs can be found here at Amazon.com and at www.jmdematteis.com.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By William Timothy Lukeman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 5, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
J. M. DeMatteis' wonderful series about being a confused, angry, yearning teenager in the late 60s is finally available in one volume, and it's long overdue! Anyone who came of age in those years will recognize the emotions & situations, sometimes all too closely & accurately for comfort. And if it did nothing more than recall those times, as it does in such perfect & incisive detail, the story would be a thorough success.
But as the narrator reminds us, "This is a story about God."
The voice of an adult Carl Vincent (or Vincent Carl) Santini -- don't worry, that's all explained -- provides the running commentary as we observe & enter into the troubled, searching life of our young protagonist, struggling to express himself, struggling to understand himself & the Universe, searching for Something long before he's consciously aware of it.
DeMatteis' prose is deceptively casual & easy-going, drawing the reader in as a confidante, but it's also insightful & honest. He cares passionately about the story he's sharing with us & that passion comes through. At the same time, his sense of humor prevents his story from ever becoming pretentious.
The powerful artwork of Glenn Barr brings this story to vivid life, changing to suit the tones of the story, ranging from cartoony to photo-realistic, often in the same panel. You'll pause & linger over many a page for the illustrations as much as for the words.
Quite a few writers are mentioned in the course of this story, all the usual suspects on the Road to Self-Discovery & Meaning -- Hesse, Huxley, Dostoyevsky, etc. Add DeMatteis to their company & get a copy of this superb book. I can't recommend it highly enough!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Steven E. Higgins on September 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
"Can a book change your life? I don't know. But it can certainly take the unvoiced, inarticulate changes of the soul, put them into words and reflect them back at you-in brilliant, devastating ways." These words are not mine, but rather those of Vincent Carl Santini, main character of Brooklyn Dreams. In this passage he's discussing having read Dostoyevsky, but I find them very fitting words with which to introduce the novel itself.
Brooklyn Dreams is Santini's story; he narrates the events of his life as he reflects backwards on his senior year of high school, 1970-1971. Part Stand by Me, part Basketball Diaries, the tale utilizes the physical setting (Brooklyn, of course) and the drug culture of the time period as a backdrop for personal exploration. It is no coincidence that the main character is named Vincent but is called Carl in parts of the story, for this is really about Santini's search for himself, trying to pin down his identity. At the same time, he is trying to find the missing piece to the puzzle, the answers to the big questions in regards to love, family, death and the nature of God.
Brooklyn Dreams was an experiment when it was first released. Back in 1994 DC was just beginning to get its Paradox imprint off the ground. In those early days, Vertigo was still a place where you ran into superheroes on occasion, albeit heroes on the edge, and DC felt they needed to have a place where they could publish works completely outside of their universe, works that were for mature readers. I don't mean mature in the sense of violence and T&A but instead thought-provoking and meaningful. Paradox was that mature place, and Brooklyn Dreams was their flagship book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Pimentel on August 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I owned the original separate series and lost book 4 of 4, and in search for it i found this complete in one book and enjoyed reading it all over again. I have recommended this graphic novel to friends and family, and to the ones i loan it to they told me they have enjoyed and found it funny.
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Format: Hardcover
"Brooklyn Dreams" is the sort of heavy-hitting graphic novel that one can hurl at anyone who believes comics are only for children and the simple-minded. Filled with brilliant digressions and a few sly literary references, J.M. DeMatteis weaves an engrossing, strong tale that brings the freewheeling `60s and `70s to life.

Starting with a stray dog named Bilbo, Brooklyn native Vincent Carl Santini narrates the quasi-memoir of his youth. It's crammed with casual drug use, raging hormones, and an enduring love for his old neighborhood. It also details painful family histories, the type that can make even the most cynical reader squirm with discomfort because it's all too familiar.

Glenn Barr's black and white artwork, ranging from sketchy doodles to finely executed watercolors, provides wonderful texture to the story as the narrator switches back and forth between years, and with varying degrees of mental stability.

As a character, Santini is brutal as he examines how he stumbled through adolescence while experimenting with philosophy, love and sex, and yes, lots of drugs. Santini himself doesn't know if he's even recounting the truth anymore. He would be the first to tell you, though, that the best lies make the greatest stories.

(This review first appeared in the San Francisco/Sacramento Book Reviews.)
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