- Hardcover: 528 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (December 17, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393061051
- ISBN-13: 978-0393061055
- Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.4 x 10.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Contract with God Trilogy: Life on Dropsie Avenue (A Contract With God, A Life Force, Dropsie Avenue) Hardcover – December 17, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Famed innovator Eisner showed the creators of modern comics what a potentially rich medium they were working with. In particular, he used the term "graphic novel" to sell A Contract with God (1978), a collection of interrelated comics stories about residents in a Jewish tenement section of New York. He returned to that territory in A Life Force (1988), showing one man's uncertain progress, and in Dropsie Avenue (1995), an historical panorama of the whole neighborhood. Printed together for the first time in this volume, the works reinforce each other beautifully. Eisner's virtuoso art always has been admired, but his writing sometimes has been disparaged as thin and sentimental. Over the span of these three books, though, emotions jostle and balance each other; sometimes the stories seem upbeat, sometimes fatalistic. The characters frequently are defeated in the short term but always yearning for more than their surroundings offer. In any case, Eisner's illustrations are superb: water drenches a man walking alone at night in a thunderstorm; a fat housewife athletically performs a "heart attack" right after her husband has collapsed with a real one; aerial cityscapes expand; and every possible expression flickers over the characters' faces. This is an important, wonderful book. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Comics veteran Eisner launched a second career with A Contract with God (1978), one that eclipsed his pioneering 1940s work featuring the masked crimefighter the Spirit and led the way for the contemporary graphic novel. Two further Depression-era books set on the same fictitious street in the Bronx followed. In the wake of Eisner's recent death, the three are here gathered into a single volume. Contract consists of four vignettes, each focusing on a resident of 55 Dropsie Avenue. More ambitious, A Life Force (1983) details the intertwining lives of a handful of the tenement's inhabitants. Dropsie Avenue (1995) portrays the neighborhood's history from 1870, when British immigrants displaced Dutch--descended farmers, to its improbable rebirth from the ruins of the Bronx at the close of the twentieth century. By this point, Eisner's drawing style, always slightly cartoonish, had become even looser and more exaggerated, while his storytelling remained masterful. Along with his other late-life graphic novels, also slated for collection, the trilogy compellingly if melodramatically portrays New York Jewish life. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
But, as impressive, and often times brilliant as the final story is, I can't divorce it from the first two books, since this product is a collection of the full trilogy, and while the first two books are good and have really great elements to them, you can really tell that the form is still in its crude, experimental phases before it was eventually perfected with later novels.
So I gave it three stars, because the first book is essentially a collection of vignettes that are mere exercises in grief and misery without a whole lot of depth, even though each individual story does contain some very interesting structural techniques. And the second book, while it is impressive with the sheer magnitude of the characters and intersecting plot lines it weaves through and balances, it also doesn't amount to a whole lot in the end. But the third book, is the point at which I feel Eisner has really mastered the form, and juggles dozens of intersecting plot lines and characters over the course of 150 years, and it has so much to say about economic and racial disparities, that reading through the first two books is absolutely worth it.
I really enjoyed reading this trilogy, if only to get a glimpse at the development of the graphic novel through its crude and experimental stages.
In fact, Eisner is much better when he focuses almost entirely on his stark, black & white artwork to tell his stories. A Life Force suffers somewhat from an overabundance of text taken mainly from newspaper stories of the time. It breaks up the flow of the very human stories he tells. In this sense, A Contract with God is the most powerful of the three books here: unflinchingly honest and emotional. Dropsie Avenue is a clever conceit that works very well--tracing the history of a single neighborhood--but suffers a bit when compared to the title story.
Granted, these stories are period pieces and sometimes a bit difficult to follow with their plethora of characters and overlapping plots. Still, they are worth the effort, bringing to life a (mainly) depression-era society that is becoming harder and harder for many of us to picture. Thus, the benefit of a presentation like Eisner's. Certainly, anyone who feels that art can be used to tell a story as well as words will find plenty of supporting material in this volume. It is definitely worth reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Will Eisner’s “The Contract With God Trilogy: Life on Dropsie Avenue” is a collection of three stand-alone graphic novels set on Dropsie Avenue, a...Read more