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Brooklyn Dreams Paperback – April 1, 2003

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On an ordinary night in an ordinary Brooklyn neighborhood in the 1960s, Vincent Carl Santini, alienated high school senior and budding philosopher, meets his guardian angel in the form of a stray dog. It takes the length of this book to tell readers why this hound is so special, and details are still murky at story's end. But Carl spins such a madly glorious tale of the confusion and transcendence of his teen years that readers may excuse his wanderings. DeMatteis's story is hypnotic, and Barr's b&w artwork keeps pace with the plot's twists, swooping from pencil to watercolor to ink as he captures the wild enthusiasms and fears of Carl's world. The book begins with Carl depicted as a Masterpiece Theater sort of narrator, sitting alone in a chair, waiting to raise the curtain on his senior year in high school. The set is an archetypal apartment building in a solidly middle-class neighborhood. The cast includes Carl, his best friend and Carl's volatile family. His father is a brash, emotional Italian; his mother is a nervous Jew. Sixteen-year-old Carl mostly sits on his stoop and reads, as jaded with life as only a teenager can be. The stray appears and Carl adopts it, but gives it away at the local police precinct. A few weeks later he's back at the station, this time taken in for drug possession. In between these two episodes, Carl recalls earlier memories of friends, the black humor of his Uncle Fred's funeral, his parents' bottomless capacity for melodrama, and life's meaning.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In this chunky graphic novel, fortyish Vincent Carl Santini recalls his senior year (1970-71) in high school. But first he retreats to August, before school opened, when he adopted a scruffy dog his parents quickly made him give up, before advancing a little into senior year and the time he got arrested while carrying drugs. By the time he is through with those stories, the book is three-quarters over. He can't help digressing, you see, to tell us about his Jewish mother and Italian Catholic father; how he was known as Carl, not Vincent; his best friend "Shane"; his fear of death; and his strong religious sensibility, despite his boredom with Judaism and Catholicism. Each digression is richly detailed and packed with humor, as are the stories they augment, which finally include those of his honors English class, the first girl he really loved, and the hilariously anticlimactic "trip" during which he discovered "the key to the universe" (actually, his first real sense of himself in the world). To contrast the narrator's present and the narrative's past, Barr draws the adult Santini realistically and young Carl as a caricature, filling both styles with expressive gestures varying from the explosive to the nuanced. As graphically distinguished and creatively novelistic a graphic novel as has ever been, this is a classic of the form. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: DC Comics (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401200516
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401200510
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,204,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By William Timothy Lukeman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 5, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
J. M. DeMatteis' wonderful series about being a confused, angry, yearning teenager in the late 60s is finally available in one volume, and it's long overdue! Anyone who came of age in those years will recognize the emotions & situations, sometimes all too closely & accurately for comfort. And if it did nothing more than recall those times, as it does in such perfect & incisive detail, the story would be a thorough success.
But as the narrator reminds us, "This is a story about God."
The voice of an adult Carl Vincent (or Vincent Carl) Santini -- don't worry, that's all explained -- provides the running commentary as we observe & enter into the troubled, searching life of our young protagonist, struggling to express himself, struggling to understand himself & the Universe, searching for Something long before he's consciously aware of it.
DeMatteis' prose is deceptively casual & easy-going, drawing the reader in as a confidante, but it's also insightful & honest. He cares passionately about the story he's sharing with us & that passion comes through. At the same time, his sense of humor prevents his story from ever becoming pretentious.
The powerful artwork of Glenn Barr brings this story to vivid life, changing to suit the tones of the story, ranging from cartoony to photo-realistic, often in the same panel. You'll pause & linger over many a page for the illustrations as much as for the words.
Quite a few writers are mentioned in the course of this story, all the usual suspects on the Road to Self-Discovery & Meaning -- Hesse, Huxley, Dostoyevsky, etc. Add DeMatteis to their company & get a copy of this superb book. I can't recommend it highly enough!
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Format: Paperback
"Can a book change your life? I don't know. But it can certainly take the unvoiced, inarticulate changes of the soul, put them into words and reflect them back at you-in brilliant, devastating ways." These words are not mine, but rather those of Vincent Carl Santini, main character of Brooklyn Dreams. In this passage he's discussing having read Dostoyevsky, but I find them very fitting words with which to introduce the novel itself.
Brooklyn Dreams is Santini's story; he narrates the events of his life as he reflects backwards on his senior year of high school, 1970-1971. Part Stand by Me, part Basketball Diaries, the tale utilizes the physical setting (Brooklyn, of course) and the drug culture of the time period as a backdrop for personal exploration. It is no coincidence that the main character is named Vincent but is called Carl in parts of the story, for this is really about Santini's search for himself, trying to pin down his identity. At the same time, he is trying to find the missing piece to the puzzle, the answers to the big questions in regards to love, family, death and the nature of God.
Brooklyn Dreams was an experiment when it was first released. Back in 1994 DC was just beginning to get its Paradox imprint off the ground. In those early days, Vertigo was still a place where you ran into superheroes on occasion, albeit heroes on the edge, and DC felt they needed to have a place where they could publish works completely outside of their universe, works that were for mature readers. I don't mean mature in the sense of violence and T&A but instead thought-provoking and meaningful. Paradox was that mature place, and Brooklyn Dreams was their flagship book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Long-time fan of J.M. DeMatteis' super hero comics (Defenders, Captain America, Spider Man (Kraven's Last Hunt), Justice League of America/International/Europe. And of course the seminal non-super hero masterpiece, Moonshadow. I love this much more personal work grounded mostly in reality. :-) A true gem.
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