If you ever doubted that a comic book could wrench your heart, I urge you to read I Never Liked You. Chester Brown looks back on his adolescent attempts at relationships--with his friends, his mother, the girl who always loved him--with such maturity and understatement that the result is an unspoken testament to the reality of life. The feeling you're left with after reading this comic is due in part to the skilled, reserved hand of Brown the artist: his comics flow so smoothly through time that once begun, this book is almost impossible to put down. The panels--often a tiny single frame on a page of pure black--convey such a sense of loneliness that in any other medium this story wouldn't be half as good.
From Publishers Weekly
Brown's latest autobiographical work is a study in adolescent socialization and the peculiar combination of budding sexuality, self-obsessed dreaminess and downright mean-spiritedness that epitomize the teenage years. Like The Playboy, his previous book, I Never Liked You chronicles the Harvey Award-winner's suburban, Canadian childhood and his affectless relations with his family, the idiosyncrasies of his mother and his strained encounters with both admiring and hostile schoolmates. But unlike the previous book (which focused on his onanistic obsession with Playboy magazine), this one captures Brown's weirdly detached relations with almost everyone and his awkward, almost pathological passivity and inability to "fit in." But girls do like him, which can be both a dream come true and his worst nightmare. Chester isn't sure (actually hasn't got a clue) what to do after he tells a friend he loves her. Brown is a wan, but intensely focused, episodic storyteller who can transform the usual memories of teenage yearning into distinctive passages of muted comedy or adolescent emotional desperation. He scatters his panels asymetrically across black pages, isolating their beauty and carefully pacing the narrative forward. His drawing is exceptional both for its economy and for the attenuated sensuality of his lines and figures. A strange and engrossing teen memoir by one of the most talented artists working in alternative comics today.
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