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The Book of Leviathan Paperback – Bargain Price, June 24, 2008
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"Peter Blegvad's comic strip is one of the greatest, weirdest things I've ever stared at. Give me Leviathan or give me death." -- Matt Groening
"Whenever I'm asked for proof that literature, art and poetry can exist in comic form, I point to Peter Blegvad." -- Ben Katchor, author of The Jew of New York
"Blegvad has opened up the crib-fenced world that precedes words and filled it to the brim with deadpan poetry and gnomic chatter." -- San Francisco Chronicle
"Funny, enigmatic and beautifully limned- what more could one ask?" -- Glen Baxter, The Observer, Book of the Year
"The greatest, weirdest thing." -- Times Literary Supplement
About the Author
Peter Blegvad is a New York-born cartoonist, musician and songwriter who lives today in London. His cartoon strip, "Leviathan," has appeared in The Independent on Sunday for more than five years. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Matt Groening (creator of `The Simpsons' and `Life in Hell') is widely recognized as a purveyor of twisted and useful reflections of real life, is quoted on the back of this volume: `Peter Blegvad's comic strip is one of the greatest, weirdest things I've ever stared at.' I heartily concur. Blegvad combines his senses of humor and irony with his intellectual strengths and his amazing artistic abilities into `Leviathan', giving his readers an opportunity to take one of the wildest rides they're liable to experience. The episodes in this book range from purely humorous takes on a baby's view of the world he inhabits to visual illustrations of puns to hallucinogenic explorations of the conscious and subconscious to sublime meditations on everything from the most seemingly insignificant daily occurrences to the meaning of life and death. Quite a range, right? Blegvad pulls it off beautifully. Perhaps I'm a little prejudiced by already being a huge fan of his music, but none of his outings collected here come across as shallow or pretentious in any way. The subtleties are many, the layers of wit are as innumerable as those in a chunk of mica - each reading reveals something missed the time before.
Leviathan himself - `Levi', as he is called - is a visual as well as a philosophical enigma. He's drawn without facial features, which allows the reader to project his/her own personality/outlook more readily onto the narrator. His parents and his older sister appear in some episodes, but for the most part he's accompanied and guided through the mazes of life (in all its dimensions) by the family cat, who gently imparts wisdom while at times openly expressing amazement that humans manage to survive without caretakers. The artist's hand appears from time to time, allowing him to more directly interact with the characters and events depicted in the strip - and on a couple of occasions, the characters themselves make attempts to escape the bounds of the graphic territory.
I read this book in a couple of sittings - but I've revisited it often and at great length and leisure, with new rewards each time. In his introduction, Rafi Zabor admits that he has encountered a few `intelligent, literate, artistically sophisticated people' who just don't get it - and I suppose that's inevitable in any artistic undertaking. It resonated within me at the deepest level - I can't recommend it highly enough.
This is a classic and one of the books I would need to save if the house was on fire.
It's not what you expected it's the opposite!
I was sold when I heard Matt Groening's review, but if that's not enough for ya here's my own...
I read this book in one sitting--how often can you call a comic anthology a "page-turner"? Levi is a literal tabula rasa, Cat is the perfect nonhuman-but-more-adult companion, and let us all stop a moment and ask ourselves... what IS the opposite of bunny?
This book is a strange "Being John Malkovich" escape into the brilliant mind of Peter Blegvad, who I hope to be seeing much more from in the near future. It stimulates the mind, rewards the intellect, and may even teach you a thing or two. Blegvad somehow weaves together philosophy, literature, myth, and the innocence of childhood in a corrupt world, wrapped in wordplay and inserted into a comic medium it continually makes fun of.
"Leviathan" reminds me of Groening's "Life in Hell," but "Leviathan" is much more, with so much intellectual and visual appeal it leaves Groening's cartoon far behind. Plus, Leviathan plays upon so many levels I'm sure I'll get something new out of each reading.
Occasionally the punning gets a little too blatant, but it's always forgiven before the end of the next comic.
Don't pass this one up. Your brain deserves it!