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The Year of Loving Dangerously Hardcover – October 15, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In 1984, leftist cartoonist Rall was a third-year student at Columbia when a wart on his chest burst, leading to a weeklong hospital stay. Because he missed finals, he was put on academic probation and eventually thrown out of school. Unemployed and too proud to go home, he came up with a strategy. If a woman took him home for the night, he wouldn’t have to sleep on the street. Resisting intimacy whenever it showed itself, Rall found many women interested in him while unaware of his other motive. His quest for a woman ready to share her blanket took him to Washington, D.C., for anti-Reagan rallies and into several apartments in which he was more interested in well-stocked refrigerators than impending sexual adventures. Realistically illustrated in soft colors by Callejo, of Bluesman (2004–06) fame, and maximally unbuttoned in some places, Rall’s sympathetic account of his life on the edge encourages identifying with a situation so desperate that his outrageous choices seem necessary. --Stephen Weiner


"A gorgeous whirlwind of a memoir. Rall is known first and foremost for his political cartoons, but, man, he knows how to tell a story, too." --Publishers Weekly

"A very engaging new graphic novel...'The Year of Loving Dangerously' [is] a little bit 'Midnight Cowboy' in tone and part 'The Graduate.'" --The Washington Post

"Working alongside renowned illustrator Pablo Callejo, Rall has created a work that is as visually striking as it is emotionally moving. The intricately detailed panels, many of them based on photo records of New York at the time, vividly reconstruct the context of Rall's most trying year in all its grimy, punky detail. Illustrations of Rall in his old haunts--bars, record stores, underground concert halls, and Columbia's campus--are as rich and evocative as photographs." --Columbia Daily Spectator

"As tangible and real of a story as was ever put on paper. Raw, honest and completely visceral, this is a book for the ages." --Comics Waiting Room

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: NBM/ComicsLit (October 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561635650
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561635658
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,893,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ted Rall is a nationally syndicated political cartoonist, columnist, graphic novelist, editor, author and occasional war correspondent.

Twice the winner of the RFK Journalism Award and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Rall's important books include "Revenge of the Latchkey Kids," about the travails of Generation X, and "Silk Road to Ruin," a survey of ex-Soviet Central Asia. He traveled to Afghanistan during the fall 2001 U.S. invasion, where he drew and wrote "To Afghanistan and Back," the first book of any kind about the war. He was also one of the first journalists to declare the war effort doomed, writing in The Village Voice in December 2001 that the occupation had already been lost.

Rall's latest book is "The Book of Obama: How We Went From Hope and Change to the Age of Revolt." His next book, "After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan," comes out in November 2013.

Inspired after meeting pop artist Keith Haring in a Manhattan subway station in 1986, Rall began posting his cartoons on New York City streets. He eventually picked up 12 small clients, including NY Weekly and a poetry review in Halifax, Nova Scotia, through self-syndication. In 1990, he returned to Columbia University to resume his studies, from which he graduated with a bachelor of arts with honors in history in 1991. (His honors thesis was about American plans to occupy France as an enemy power at the end of World War II.) Later that year, Rall's cartoons were signed for national syndication by San Francisco Chronicle Features, which is no longer in business. He moved to Universal Press Syndicate in 1996.

His cartoons now appear in more than 100 publications around the United States, including the Los Angeles Times, Tucson Weekly, the Harrisburg Patriot-News, Pasadena Weekly and MAD Magazine.

Rall considers himself a neo-traditionalist who uses a unique drawing style to revive the aggressive approach of Thomas Nast, who viewed editorial cartoons as a vehicle for change. His focus is on issues important to ordinary working people--he keeps a sign asking "What do actual people care about?" above his drafting table--such as un- and underemployment, the environment and popular culture, but also comments on political and social trends.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Before becoming a very popular and quite controversial political artist, Ted Rall faced a big challenge: How to survive after getting kicked out of college, losing his job, and facing being penniless. What he did was submerge himself in a lifestyle of carefree promiscuity, which he details extensively in The Year of Loving Dangerously.

"Carefree" might not be the best way to describe it. Rall always has concerns about it, although not so much a conscience about how he handles his trysts when it comes to treating his lady conquests gentlemanly. But he does fear for his safety, and an STD scare causes him to reexamine his life in all respects. But before he gets there, he enjoys some rather beautiful sceneries of the flesh.

The book begins in 1984, with Ted a young man ready to sow his wild oats. The book begins with Ted facing one of the mostly unthought-of quirks of the one-night stand: showering in a stranger's place the next morning. Having to use their shampoo and wondering if it's right for his hair type, Ted's dilemma is a metaphor for the larger problems he'll face later on.

The Year of Loving Dangerously contains some nudity and coarse language, as you would expect, but it's not vulgar or obscene. Nor is it really a lesson in morality learned. Rall doesn't have some major epiphany that causes him to change his life (although there are a few minor ones that do give him pause, including a disturbing trip to the emergency room), and the book never enters the territory of "See? This is what will happen if you do this."

The artwork of Pablo G. Callejo is lifelike and gorgeous, with a wonderful 3D quality that makes 1984 seem bright and vivid. It helps bring to life all the experiences of Rall's life back then...and the book makes clear that they were experiences without turning them into bland morality lessons.

-- John Hogan
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Format: Hardcover
I never thought that a wart could be life threatening - I've had my share and in spots too delicate to speak of (no, not "there")...and neither did Ted. Surprise.

Just one of many surprises real-life tossed Ted's way in his post coming of age in a world that, had it been just 5 years earlier would have been the idyllic splendor that I knew at his age...giggle...

In brief, life tossed Ted a series of fragmentation grenades which did their best to shred him but, by dint of destiny and character, managed not too. He met schoolessness, homelessness, joblessness and near lifelessness (the wart) with the same drunk monkey energy and fury that they attempted to assail him with and won. Leaving a trail of carnalage where carnage (self and other) could have ruled was his skillful answer to these troubling times and he did it with respect and humility. An amazing feat as such accomplishment makes most men strut and preen (had it not been for the tragedy surrounding it, who knows...).

All this is depicted in this engaging narrative (his storytelling is to be envied) illustrated by Pablo's natural and smooth graphics which (from what I have seen of Ted) do a justice to his countenance... AND, with an intro from Xaviera Hollander (an enduring favorite of mine) it is a sure thing.

Read and enjoy and be just a wee bit jealous too!
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Format: Hardcover
This is an amazing work that will will hold the attention even of people who don't read books. Unlike anything else you are ever likely to read, YOLD is well worth the low price on Amazon. It is the true life adventure of writer/cartoonist Ted Rall during the summer of 1984, when his life seemed to collapse under a series of misfortunes. He gets through mostly on his good looks and a series of women willing to give him a place to sleep at night, among other perks. Rather than being told in the traditional (and ofttimes dull) autobiographical style, Rall tells his story as a graphic novel, beautifully illustrated by Pablo Callejo. I couldn't put this book down until I finished it and the only criticism I have is that it isn't a series.
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Rall is less a cartoonist than a librettist in search of a graphic artist and here he wisely played Harvey Pekar to Pablo Callejo’s R. Crumb. The result is a moving and vividly illustrated starkly honest autobiographical account of his living on the mean streets of NYC after being kicked out of Columbia University because a chest wart that had rooted in his aorta appeared suddenly and burst, causing him to miss final exams that some very rotten professors, not wishing to inconvenience themselves, arbitrarily refused to let him take, as was their prerogative.

The charming Rall played weaknesses in CU’s computer system to use some of its resources for a semester and began seducing women for a place to sleep and food to eat, likening himself to the promiscuous Xaviera Hollander who wrote an introduction to the book. Eventually Rall’s amours stabilized into three women (a brain, a sexpot, and a comic) whose reliable nesting days covered him for the entire week, each of them naively thinking herself his one and only while he scrambled with the help of a doper friend to find a job. As Rall tells the tale, his misfortunes are an indictment of –what else?! – Capitalism, since in a fair and just socialist society education would have been free and fair, etc. Notwithstanding the cruelty of capitalism, Rall’s implicit argument that capitalism is his bogeyman has many holes in it. The reason Rall had no job when he was kicked out of Columbia is that he had stolen a bicycle from someone at work, was caught, and fired, and almost beat the crap out of his roommate who answered honestly when the boss phoned and asked if the bike were there.
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