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Market Day Hardcover – March 30, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Cartoonist and educator Sturm turns in a tightly woven graphic novella about a shtetl craftsman whose life and livelihood shatter against the rising industrial behemoth of the early 20th century. Mendleman is a nervous rug weaver with a child on the way. His devotion to his craft brings him to the brink of art, but when he suddenly loses his major client to modernization, he finds himself, effectively, patronless. Suddenly a castaway amid economic forces that render his virtues meaningless, he collapses as his previously unnamable anxieties find specific and destructive form. Sturm's tale comprises a day's cycle, and the magnitude of Mendleman's radical descent must sometimes be stated or inferred. But most of the book's important details are effectively portrayed as part of the quotidian warp and woof of life's patterns and relationships. Sturm has infused his reliably disciplined storytelling style with slow pacing and spare graphics, but some bravura sequences give the story impact. Although the details of rural Eastern European Jewish life at the turn of the century ring true, the book is less rooted in a specifically explicated setting than some of Sturm's previous historical fictions, allowing Mendleman's dilemma to function as a broader metaphor for the perpetual struggle between independent creativity and impersonal market forces. (Apr.)
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From School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up–Mendleman is a Jewish rug maker in early-20th-century Eastern Europe. His wife is pregnant with their first child and due any minute, but he must go to the market to make money for his family to survive. He attempts to sell his wares to no avail. The shop he frequented in the past has changed owners and no longer carries quality items like his. Mendleman presses on and attempts to sell his rugs at the emporium, where they are willing to pay a fraction of what he used to make, and his pieces are thrown onto a heap of other rugs for sale. Mendleman feels he has no choice and completes the sale. This catalyzes an existential crisis for him. His work used to give him so much pride, but he is forced to surrender for money. With expressive and moody imagery, Sturm's story is at once original and universal. The struggle to maintain one's identity after losing a job is a tough one, and the author does an excellent job conveying it. With some obscene language, nudity, and brief mention of sex, this graphic novel is for mature readers.–Melissa Houlroyd, formerly at Brighton Memorial Library, Rochester, NYα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly; First Printing edition (March 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1897299974
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897299975
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mr. James Sturm is a cartoonist. He lives in White River Junction, Vermont with his wife, two daughters, a chunky little dog named Chi Chi, and two rabbits.

Besides making comics, James works at The Center for Cartoon Studies, a school for cartoonists.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Market Day" is a beautifully-drawn, subdued portrait of a day in the life of Mendleman the rug maker, somewhere in Eastern Europe in the early 1900's.

The storyline, however, is universal and immediate. It captures the current maelstrom of our world today, and the hard choices we are forced to make. There is a timeless urgency to the day's events for our hero, Mendleman, and those of us who have suffered in the last economic decline understand the dilemmas confronting our protagonist all too well.

This is a wonderful book. Mendleman's day at the market will haunt there are no easy answers for any of us.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Melanie Gilbert VINE VOICE on December 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The story of Mendleman, a rug maker in a turn-of-the-century Eastern European village, is woven with exquisite care by graphic novelist James Sturm.

Using a sepia-infused palette that pays homage to the photographs of Roman Vishniac and Alter Kayczne, and the postcard collection of Gerard Silvain, Sturm takes us on Mendleman's journey to the marketplace where he sells his finely-loomed masterpieces - "my rugs are always 16 ends per inch! ALWAYS!"

At Market Day, Mendleman encounters old friends and a reliable old world: a Mezuza maker, a gravestone carver, a fortune teller, a knife grinder. They are comforting touchstones in a world built on a tradition of honor, duty and diligence.

But when Mendleman must sell his rugs to a new vendor far below their previous value with his old connection, his sense of order violently unravels. The world view that used to inspire his creations now looks bleak and cheap. He gets drunk and vows to sell his loom.

Mendleman's crisis of artistic confidence comes at the same moment as a personal one: he's about to become a new father. These colliding forces are literally ripping apart the fabric of Mendleman's life warp by weft.

Sturm takes the simple story of a rug maker and turns it into a mediation on the sacred and the profane, art and commerce, and devotion and duty. The book ends obliquely, yet with blue color, signifying that perhaps Mendleman will find life and art in a changing world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris Reich on June 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a brilliant picture of exactly where the American economy is now and how lives are being affected.

More words will detract from the meaning. This is book you can read in an hour that will affect you forever. Hopefully.

Chris Reich
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ruth Biloon on June 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Market Day is the story of a poor rug maker and peddler in the early years of the 20th century in Eastern Europe, told and drawn with great feeling and restraint. It shows a grey world, and Sturm portrays it (in shades of grey, black and white), and the life and people that would soon disappear, with such empathy, one can feel the weight of the rugs and the growing hopelessness as the poor man trudges from one possibility to the other, only to have them all evaporate. The illustrations are lovingly drawn, the landscape nostalgic, the faces of the characters so individual and full of life that they seem all too real and their loss all the more tragic.
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By Chapati VINE VOICE on June 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Market Day is about Mendleman, a Jewish rug weaver living in Eastern Europe right around the Industrial Revolution. He is a dreamer who loves his art, but with a pregnant wife, he also feels a lot of pressure to provide for his family. He sets off one morning to the town for market day, taking eight rugs with him to sell at one of the most respected shops in town. However, when he arrives, his buyer no longer owns a shop, and the new shopkeeper refuses to buy his rugs. This sets Mendleman into despair, and we follow as he tries to find another buyer for his rugs in town and then further afield. As the day turns into night, Mendleman becomes more and more worried about his plight and how he will manage to balance his passion for high-quality workmanship with his need to provide for his family.

I loved Sturm's use of colors. Mendleman is a very moody character, and Sturm alternates between dark colors and bright colors to show just how much Mendleman's feelings jump around. Sturm could easily have made this book only about the clash between artistry and cost and the way that industry can kill artistry, but he did not. As a reader, you sympathize with Mendleman, but you don't quite trust him. His feelings veer from happiness to despair a bit too easily. He seems to give up on the possibility of selling his rugs after just one setback. He doesn't seem thrilled about his wife's pregnancy. His friends don't take his declarations seriously. He himself admits that he is more of a dreamer and his wife is the practical one.

There is a lot more going on in the story than just quality vs. cost tug-of-war, which I greatly appreciated.
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