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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
I'm not usually a reader of graphic novels, but this book does a great job using illustrations to help tell the story. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Gregory Rosenhauer
personally from the comments i have read on I would not even buy this book, i personally have written my own book called "Epilepsy and the Epileptic" Explaining of the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Chad B. Cathey
This was a challenge to read because it took a reasonable personal struggle and dragged it through a rather dull account of the author's life. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Travis
A wonderfully rich tapestry memoir story filled with Magical Realism, family feud, and wonder. The characters are interesting, and the scenes are gorgeous. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Paul J. Morehead
My son bought the book: Epileptic for one of his sophomore college classes. This book came in a timely manner and served it's purpose.Published 16 months ago by Lori Diane Varecka
I found this book to be extremely dark and depressing. Admittedly I am not a really big fan of graphic novels anyway. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Rae
Excellent graphic novel. The visual style looks almost like a relief or cave painting. Unlike superhero comics it doesn't make excessive use of perspective, and instead flattens... Read morePublished on May 15, 2013 by Simon
I think my favorite thing about this graphic novel is the line work, which helps to bring the story to life as much as the images formed by the lines. Read morePublished on November 3, 2012 by MissRoboto