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A Child's Life and Other Stories Paperback – July 25, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Gloeckner is a legendary figure in underground comics. Her short, powerfully candid and visually explicit autobiographical graphic narratives vividly re-create the sexual victimization of her childhood and adolescence. Her first full-length book combines new work in color and in black-and-white, including the title story, along with older, shorter narrative comics dating back to 1976. (An appendix reprints her disturbing medical illustrations for J.G. Ballard's avant-SF classic The Atrocity Exhibition.) Abandoned by her father and sexually victimized by her alcoholic mother's lovers, the teenage heroine of "Minnie's 3rd Love" endures a "week-long nightmare of sex and drug-taking" among the hustlers and addicts of 1974 San Francisco. In the ruefully humorous "Quaker School Q-Ties," girls team up to embarrass, and disgust, boys in their grade school. Gloeckner's drawings combine a labored precision with a wild, often satirical expressiveness; her protagonists can resemble sad, angry toy dolls. Undergound comics master R. Crumb's introduction combines glowing praise and a typically embarrassing confession: "I, too, lusted after the young, budding artist-cartoonist."
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"I thought that Phoebe Gloeckner's story, 'Minnie's Third Love,' was one of the best comic stories I ever read in my life ... a masterpiece. She is one of the best, which is interesting, seeing as: A.) She's a cute girl, B.) She's not a very prolific artist ... two factors which, one would assume, would be a hindrance to great art. But it's always a mystery, what makes great art ... there, I said it ... she's a great artist."
—R. Crumb, cartoonist
"Phoebe Gloeckner's illustrations for The Atrocity Exhibition were superb—wonderful line and shading of which Durer would have approved—several were absolute tours de force."
—J.G. Ballard, author of Crash and The Atrocity Exhibition
"Many cartoonists today mine their personal lives for subject matter. Phoebe Gloeckner achieves what few of them can; she makes the autobiographical universal. Her finely crafted drawings and emotionally powerful story-telling ability combine in this terrific collection to tell us painful, sympathetic, and hilariously human truths. Read this book. Find out why comics are art."
—Bill Griffith, creator of Zippy the Pinhead
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Top customer reviews
I think sexual abuse victims will feel that her story has some resonance with theirs. She depicts the mental manipulation of abuse and some of the underlying psychology going on through her illustrations in a disturbingly accurate way that few "professional" books show!
Phoebe Gloeckner’s “Diary of a Teenage Girl” is “An Account in Words and Pictures” of Minnie, a fifteen-year-old who is having an affair with Monroe, a 35-year-old man who is also her mother’s lover. What makes this story so different from other “child abuse memoirs” is that not once in the book does young Minnie (or anyone) claim she was coerced, abused, molested or raped. In fact, throughout the book, we are led to believe that Minnie was an active and willing participant in the relationship.
There are endless coming-of-age stories depicting young boys enjoying their budding sexuality without shame, many of them lusting after women twice their age. Usually we are given a view of women as sexual objects, yet deny that they are sexual creatures. This is a story of a teenage girl shamelessly exploring her sexuality with enthusiasm. She is intelligent, self aware, amorous, sexually liberated, without the usual consequential disaster normally associated with these traits. This is one reason why “Diary” is such a unique novel.
This 300 page book switches between prose and graphic novel, starting with a detailed drawing of Minnie, dark long hair with short bangs, big eyes looking up into the sky. The words on the opposite page read:
“I DON’T REMEMBER BEING BORN. I was a very ugly child. My appearance has not improved so I suppose it was a lucky break when he was attracted by my youthfulness.”
You can tell in the drawing that Minnie is not bad looking, but it is easy to get right into her mind-set, because what 15-year-old ever knows she is attractive? We also understand that this character has some insight because she knows it was her youthfulness that attracted the attention of Monroe.
Set in San Francisco during 1976, the adults in Minnie’s life have no boundaries, or any understanding of her emotions, needs or intelligence. Her best friend Kimmie is the epitome of all Minnie dislikes in herself. As we get to know Monroe better, we understand that he is an insecure, needy, emotional child at best, and at worst, he is an all-out child molester who should be imprisoned for life.
This book is unique, powerful and not for the tenderhearted. If you are bored reading about women that are usually the victim, always innocent, never responsible for their own decisions or their own lot in life, you will find this story refreshing in its truthfulness. The artwork is beautiful and detailed. It’s no surprise the author/artist works as a medical illustrator.
I also read “A Child’s Life,” Phoebe’s previous book published in 1998. The graphic novel was classified as pornography and refused entry by customs officials in both France and England. It reads to me as the story-board for the 2002 “Diary”; if you are planning on reading both, start with “A Child’s Life,” not because it’s necessary for the story line, but because reading it after “Diary” might be redundant or anti-climatic.
Favorite quote – “I wish I knew someone who was happy” or “My youth is something that cannot be helped.”