From Publishers Weekly
David B. is one of the founders of the French experimental comics collective L'Association, and this hallucinatory work (the first of two volumes) is a sort of refracted story of his childhood when he was known as Pierre-Franois. On a literal level, it's a fascinating memoir of how his brother's epilepsy became the driving force of his family's life in the 1960s and '70s. Desperate to find a cure for his brother's condition, his parents turn to ascetic macrobiotic cults, deeply esoteric spiritualists and more in search of something that might help him. They encounter all manner of cruelty and quackery but occasionally find something that helps. B.'s own fascination with history and war seems to protect him from the despair that perpetually surrounds the family. His visual retelling of their suffering is a masterpiece of surrealistic cartooning and fantastic imagery. Readers see B. as a child; as his mind blurs the distinction between reality, metaphor and fiction, so does his art. He draws a macrobiotic healer as a cartoon tiger, and fills the book with iconic metaphors for disease (epilepsy is like a demon from a cave drawing). His has a fascination with Swedenborgian mysticism and Samurai warriors, who are vehicles for gorgeously stylized b&w illustrations of warfare and bloodletting. The narrative thread peels aside for digressions to depict young Pierre-Franois' dreams or to carefully denote the family's endless efforts to find relief for their son and ultimately for themselves. Almost every panel is a graphic balancing act between representation and psychological distortion. This is truly a remarkable and powerful piece of comics narration.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-This autobiographical work plumbs the psychological, social, and symbolic reaches of the author's experiences in a family that must deal with a devastating disease. Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s in France's Loire Valley, Jean-Christophe developed grand mal epilepsy around the age of 11. Pierre-Francois, nine, observes his brother's battle with the physical and social implications of the disease; their parents' efforts to find management of it through medical, macrobiotic, and even psychic interventions; and the author's own development in this milieu as a boy obsessed with history and warfare and as a dedicated artist. This is a full-strength novel with well-developed characters, subplots concerning both World Wars, and riffs on the popular culture of the period in which hip Westerners looked to the East for solutions to health and spiritual maladies. David B.'s black-and-white panels spin with Jungian figures of serpents and offer snapshots of commune kitchens, woodlots haunted by his recently deceased grandfather, and street alleys where neighborhood children fantasize the distant past and uncharted future. This volume comprises half of the eight titles originally published in French, and readers will eagerly await its companion. Teens who have read Don Trembath's Lefty Carmichael Has a Fit (Orca, 2000) or Lauren Slater's Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir (Random, 2000) may find this book to be the one that encourages them to become aficionados of sophisticated, graphic-novel literature.Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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