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Inklings Hardcover – November 3, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151014922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151014927
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,146,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Product Description
When Jeffrey Koterba was six, he started drawing his first cartoons, painstakingly copying from the Sunday Omaha World Herald'sfunny papers and making up his own characters. With a pen and a sheet of white paper, he was able to escape into a world that was clean, expansive, and comfortable--a refuge from the pandemonium surrounding him.

The tiny house Koterba grew up in was full-to-bursting with garage-sale treasures and televisions his father Art repaired and sold for extra money. A hard-drinking one-time jazz drummer whose big dreams never seemed to come true, Art was subject to violent facial and vocal tics--symptoms of Tourette's Syndrome, a condition Jeffrey inherited--as well as explosions of temper and eccentricity that kept the Koterba family teetering on the brink of disaster.

From the canyons of broken electronics, the lightning strikes, screaming matches, and discouragements great and small emerged a young man determined to follow his creative spirit to grand heights. And much to his surprise, he found himself on a journey back to his family and the father he once longed to escape. An exuberant, heart-felt memoir that calls to mind The Tender Bar and Fun Home, Inklings is infused with an irresistible optimism all its own.

Amazon Exclusive: A Cartoon from author Jeffrey Koterba
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From Publishers Weekly

In this honest memoir, Koterba, nationally syndicated political cartoonist and jazz musician, depicts a childhood burdened with both Tourette's syndrome and an eccentric, overbearing father. A failed musician, the older Koterba drank heavily and turned his frustrations on his family. He also had a part-time business repairing and selling televisions, which turned their Omaha, Neb., home into a Sanford and Son–style junkyard. Like his son, he suffered from Tourette's, which has a genetic component. The painfully shy Koterba struggled as a young man to escape the family chaos and follow his artistic inclinations. Koterba renders scenes of family dysfunction with an artist's feeling for nuance and detail. His psychic turmoil is portrayed with equal facility, and the junkyard house becomes a fearsome presence. However, the book lacks thematic unity. While Koterba offers a number of recurring themes—his Tourette's, the Apollo moonwalk, a journalist uncle killed in a plane crash—none of these receive enough focus to sustain the narrative. Yet Koterba's weakness is also his strength: the closeness to his material. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Jeffrey Koterba is an award-winning syndicated political cartoonist. He is also lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the Prairie Cats, a swing band. Inklings is his first book. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 51 customer reviews
Koterba writes well and his memoirs are interesting.
Mary A. Axford
If you like memoir about kids growing up with imperfect family lives but who wind up living meaningful adult lives you'll like this book.
christinemm from The Thinking Mother blog
The author is a relative of mine and I could hear his parents' voices as I was reading.
Pam Bengtson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Fillmoe VINE VOICE on November 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What a fascinating read INKLINGS is. Jeffrey Koterba is the offspring of a domineering, alcoholic father, who created chaos in what could have been a stable, working-class environment; and his mother, who, while trying to bring calm to her family, endured and perhaps enabled the tumultuous atmosphere in their home. In addition to a job with the Union Pacific Railroad, Dad frequents garage sales and drags home non-working televisions and other perfectly good items and fills every available space with these projects in order to "support his family" by repairing and re-selling the items. I did a bit of uncomfortable reminiscing while reading about Dad. My own father had a secondhand store, which was partitioned off to provide us a home at the rear. Among the treasures my father brought home was a crate of live chickens that broke open and allowed the chickens to run amok. I have no idea what he planned to do with live chickens. Koterba's father is a self-proclaimed victim, and rejects any suggestion that his behavior has created near poverty and turmoil for himself and his family.

Young Jeffrey used drawings to express himself, both his reality and his fantasy life, as soon as he could hold a pencil. Using drawings, he told his stories while avoiding the agony of talking while suppressing the tics that plagued him. He passed through early adolescence with few friends, but began to find the niche he needed at the high school newspaper. An indifferent student, except in art, he somehow managed to be admitted to the University of Nebraska where his talent for journalism, particularly editorial cartoons, blossomed.

The final section of INKLINGS is where Koterba is finally able to describe his considerable success at his chosen career and at mending much of what was broken in his family. He was not handed an easy path to follow, so his triumphs are particularly heartwarming. How fortunate we readers are that he chose to write about himself.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. DelParto VINE VOICE on October 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Political cartoonist and musician Jeffrey Koterba revisits his childhood with his humorous memoir INKLINGS. Having grown up during the 1960s and 1970s, Koterba was influenced by television culture and the Sunday funnies, which resonates with his impressionable renderings of cartoon strips that were inspired by Peanuts to The Wizard of Id that came with the Sunday edition of the Omaha World-Herald; coincidently, he would later become a cartoonist with the paper. Despite the reference of Koterba's family as being dysfunctional, which may be attributed to how his father never so-called sugarcoated the truth, picture Archie Bunker rather than Ward Cleaver. However, this did not deter Koterba as well as his brother Artie from overcoming obstacles and endless family squabbles that they encountered as children and later in adulthood.

Indeed, the book does not read as cut and dry as any typical memoir. His life has been a unique journey as highlighted within each page that vividly retells his momentous experiences as a young boy doodling, spending uncompromising times with relatives during the Christmas holidays, and playing in various rock and roll bands shrouded with Tourette's Syndrome; a condition he was not aware of until he was in his thirties. But the most interesting aspect of Koterba's memoir centers upon his father who worked as a bookkeeper for the Union Pacific Railroad and also repaired televisions at home; interestingly, having been a drummer in jazz bands and orchestras, and once playing with a young Johnny Carson, Koterba's father's passion for music left a lasting impression on him.

INKLINGS is an extremely comedic and sentimental narrative. The story could have easily been included within a Rolling Stone or New Yorker article, or it could possibly be a screenplay for a film or sitcom. There is no doubt that this book is worth reading more than once.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mint910 VINE VOICE on October 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Let me start off by telling you that Inklings is not a graphic novel memoir. I made the mistake of thinking it was due to something I read on an Amazon page, so don't make the same mistake. I think that disappointment might have soured my reading experience a bit.

Inklings is split up into three sections, Jeffrey's childhood, teen years, and adulthood. I could have done without 3/4 of the first section. For me the stories seemed rather repetitive in Jeffrey's childhood, almost always revolving around his father's antics. I really disliked his father until the last section of the book when he had mellowed out with age. He was just not easy to read about.

The book really gets going for me towards the end of the second section when Jeffrey is in college and his cartooning starts to become very important in his life. Don't get me wrong, from the very beginning we see Jeffrey drawing cartoons. But when he starts to pursue it professionally the book really takes off. I wish Jeffrey's cartooning was a larger focus in the book. I loved seeing him reach his dream, being a cartoonist at the newspaper he's read since he was a child. (Not a spoiler, it's in his bio!) It just felt really good to see him get something he worked so so hard for. I also liked reading about his family in the last part of the book. When they had all grown up and their parents had mellowed with age. They just all got along so much better.

Overall a slow start but with a satisfying ending.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Miz Ellen VINE VOICE on December 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Jeffrey Koterba writes with an eye for the telling detail that makes an editorial cartoon notable and a paragraph memorable. Midway through this memoir he describes his sensations on being struck by lightening in electrifying detail. It's a potent piece of writing, immersing the reader inside the sensation. Only after it is over does the realization dawn that this was lightening.

That sums up Koterba's style. We are immersed first in his childhood in the 60s and in his coming of age during moonwalks and Vietnam. His father fixes TVs, drinks too much and fights with his mom. The family fights over money, loves one another, stifles one another and ultimately dysfunctions together. It's a frustratingly slow start and Koterba doesn't reflect on what he now knows, i.e., that he inherited Tourette's Syndrome from his father.

On one hand, it's understandable. Koterba is writing about his life, not the label of his genetic condition. There's a lot of accomplishment crammed into this book: Koterba is a cartoonist and a musician and makes his living by living his creative dreams.

The book gains strength after Koterba moves out of his parents' house and begins his independent struggle. And life is a lot like a lightening strike sometimes, ripping up out of the ground when the storm still seems too far away to be a danger. As a young man, he struggles so hard to make his name as a cartoonist in order to support his family that he winds up divorced.

Ultimately, this book fails to make the meaningful connections that would hold a reader. Although this is splendidly written, it takes more than fine writing to make a book attractive to a reader.
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