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Daytripper Paperback – February 8, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. A stunning, moving story about one man's life and all the possibilities to be realized or lost along the way. Brothers Bá and Moon take readers through the life of a man named Brás de Oliva Domingos, selecting a series of individual events of great significance to Brás, showing each as if it could be the day Brás dies, and in so doing creating an examination of family, friendship, love, art, life, and death that urges the reader to turn the same careful inspection on their own life. Central is the relationship between Brás, who is first seen as a disgruntled writer stuck in a job writing obituaries, and his father, Benedito de Oliva Domingos, a famous author. Although each section can be years apart, themes all beautifully tie in throughout the work; characters develop as more is learned about them as the story jumps back and forth in time; and moments of Brás' life take on entirely new meanings as events from his possible pasts or futures cast them into new lights. Moon and Bá's artwork is as impressive as their writing, and aided by colorist Dave Stewart the artists/writers render gorgeous cities and landscapes from Brazil across several decades, adding in touches of the surreal when the story calls for it. This is an intense work that promises to bring the reader along on a personal and rewarding journey. (Feb.)
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"Beautifully written and utterly gorgeous." (Gerard Way (The Umbrella Aacademy, My Chemical Romance)) "I couldn't put it down" (Jeff Smith (Bone))" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
I never read it again, until yesterday. I thought it wouldn't get to me as much as the first time i read it. Nope, it struck just as hard. This is one of those books that depending on where you are in life will affect you differently.
So in my opinion if you want a graphic novel with fantastic art and an amazing story that will tug at your heartstrings and make you take stock of your life. Then read this. If you made it this far thanks for reading my first in depth review. Have a good one
Bras is the central character. He is the son of a world-famous writer. Each chapter of this story takes places at a different time in his life - early working career, college, first love, childhood weekends on the family farm, the day his son his born, etc... They are all handled deftly and accurately - so much so that many readers can universally identify.
--Ahh, but you know all too welll that death is a part of life my friend.
--You're right.. death is a part of life.
--and so is family. " (p. 22-23)
Daytripper offers an harmonious symbiosis of graphic art, an interesting narrative and engaging story with enough surprises and elements of reflection to make it a winner. Two Brazilian artists are the creators of this beauty, twin brothers Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba.
Daytripper is set in Brazil and tells the story of Brás de Oliva Domingos' life. He is a Brazilian journalist, working in the Obituaries section of a newspaper, an aspiring writer, son of the famous writer, and a man who wants to live life to the fullest. The novel presents his life in shuffled chapters that are not always chronological and some of them also have flashbacks to his past.. The chapters and ages are important events and life-changing experiences in Bras' life:
Chapter 1- presents us a 32y.o. Bras
Chapter 2 - ditto 21y.o.
Chapter 3- ditto 28y.o.
Chapter 4- ditto 41y.o.
Chapter 5- ditto 11y.o.
Chapter 6- ditto 33y.o.
Chapter 7- ditto 38y.o.
Chapter 8- ditto 47y.o.
Chapter 9- ditto in his 70s.
Chapter 10- ditto 76y.o.
We are told of Bras' childhood and late years, his first kiss, his bad and good relationships, of his job and family life, of his dreams and angst, of his low and high moments and, most importantly, of his hunger for life, his quest to live his life in a way that fulfils him and helps him to be himself.
Each episode ends with the death of Bras and with a small obituary about him. There are many elements that make the novel different from other personal or family novels, but this is perhaps the one that intrigues readers the most, and the one that has generated more comments and analysis.
I found Daytripper very engaging visually as it has a great variety of scenes and subjects, with full page images and different styles of vignettes, day-night images, interior-exterior scenes, urban and countryside landscapes, black and white characters, all of them beautifully drawn and lighted. I cannot stress enough how much I loved the colouring. Dave Steward (a nine-time Eisner Award-winning colourist) did a sensational job and took the novel to the next level. The colours are always appropriate, beautiful and bright at times, dark and moody others, neutral when necessary. They never overwhelm the narrative, or the drawn images but are an intrinsic part of it. The bucolic images of Bras' childhood are glorious and among my favourite. The lettering is by Sean Konot. The text boxes, text balloons and typography are very classic, elegant and functional. The novel has a great deal of dialogues and text but, despite this, it rarely looks overcrowded, so that is Konot's merit. All the artists have contributed to create a wonderful piece of Art.
Regarding the narrative, I always love non-linear structures. Episodes 1-5 aren't chronological, and the others are, and I thought that the first five were more exciting to read. Like a piñata you have to approach blindfolded to get the candy. The conversations are real as life itself, the sort of conversations you would hear from real people, a bit pointless sometimes, a bit necessary others, a bit philosophical others, not always 'exciting', we don't always talk about super-duper things, do we?
The characters are well-rounded, believable, almost real. Although there are many characters in the book, Moon & Ba focused their energy on those who really matter, Bras firstly, his father and his dear friend Jorge. The authors say at the end of the novel:
" Firmly based in reality, the most difficult thing wasn't trying t create a world that would look real No, the hardest thing was creating a world that would feel real".
Indeed, the story feels real, lived, and the feeling is there, in the images and story we are presented with, but also in the way the story makes us feel, the way that transports us, or at least me, to our emotional realms. I cried at the end of the book, moved by the lyricism of the last images and the story told.
The main themes touched in the book are timeless and will touch anybody wanting to listen. Meditations on life are universal no matter the format, approach or the origin of those who do them. We are all flesh and bones basically. The only particularity in this approach is that death is used to do that meditation on life. Not death per se, but as a standpoint on which to look ahead and understand what life is and to ground us in life, the right-here-right-now. Some of the questions posed by the story are:
# What is death?
# Which moments in life make us die inside?
# Which moments in our lives make us want to die?
# If we died today, right today, how would our life look like to other people?
# If we died today and we could write our obituary ourselves, how would we see our own life?
# If we knew we were going to die in a precise time, would our way of living change?
# Are life dreams necessary to live life better?
# Do our night dream say something about who we are and how we live?
# When faced with death, do we realise what matters the most, and if so, why don't we focus on what matters the most in our current life?
Daytripper is also a very Latino novel. Latino as in the Latino culture-s shared by Portuguese and Spanish speakers on both shores of the ocean. It presents us with very strong family ties, extended families, a love to communicate around food, and a natural presence of death in our daily life. However, there are elements in this novel that are very Brazilian, the racial mixing and social differences, some of them hinted in some of the conversations with Jorge, and especially the religious syncretism, the Candomblé and Umbanda, and that powerful mix of Catholic and Yoruba beliefs. Thus, the presence and cult of the goddess Iemanja is clearly shown and integrated in the story. Two of the most important dreams Bras has in the novel are, indeed, related to calls from Iemanja -- the goddess of the sea, the protector or love and family, the creator of life. Although it could be said that Daytripper is also very Latino in its Magic Realism I have to disagree with the story being part of that genre. .
There is a sort of tendency among reviewers to call Magic Realism to anything produced in Latin-America where the narrative is not straightforward, with oneiric and surreal elements are present. I won't lecture anybody on what Magic Realism is. You can easily get that by reading a classic novel like One Hundred Years of Solitude and learn it in the best way possible. However, even the entry in Wikipedia gives a good overview about the genre and summarises the differences between Magic Realism and other genres like surrealism, fantasy and imaginary realism among others I think it is great to keep it in mind to approach and better to understand this novel. I mention all of this because this Magic Realism is used in many reviews to explain why Bras dies in each chapter. In reality, if you re-read the book or just pay attention to the details the first time you read it things are not what they look like.
****This section might contain spoilers*****
There are many clues in the book, even before your finish it, that show that what is happening is not always real. Part of it is a metaphor, part a fragment of the story told as a whole. Here some clues. Ask yourself:
1/ Once you finish the book, look at the text boxes' shape and lettering. Which text boxes in the book match those at the very end?
2/ Who do you think wrote the obituaries?
3/ Who is writing the book and seating in front of a typewriter?
4/ After reading the chapter The Dream, and learning what is happening to Bras, ask yourself what in the book is similar to that chapter?
3/ At the end of each chapter ask yourself, if the death of Bras wasn't real, which events or circumstances would make Bras, or any other person, "die"?
**** end of spoilers****
The short introduction by Craig Thompson, the author of Blankets, is very cute and cool!
Although I enjoyed the novel enormously, I found that the gap between Bras' 40s and 70s is a bit too wide and empty of content that the novel is a bit unbalanced. I would have loved seeing Bras and his family getting progressively older, and reshuffling the chapters a bit more to add a few more layers and produce a rounder story. Also, we are presented with bourgeois characters, with predictable lives, who might not thrill all readers.
Daytripper is a comic with capitals. For those who don't like reading superheroes comics and want to find something more interesting this might be a good way to start. There are plenty of oneiric and surreal images in the book, many mysteries and things out of the ordinary. However, what has stayed with me is the message of the story, live life to the fullest, and make every second in your life count. We are the same, we long for the same things. We worry about the same stuff, family, job, relationships, food. We are born, we live we die. We cannot do anything about the first two, but we can live our lives in ways that fulfil us. Life is also full of failure, disappointment and dead ends and we have to accept that those are going to be there and are also part of life, as death is. :)).
Though this is a book of sequential art, it is not the stuff of superheroes, monsters, aliens, or robots. It is about a man, and it is about all of the possibilities that surround every man and woman's life. To turn left instead of right opens up a whole new world of potential, and we get to experience what could be with Bras, and what was. I will reveal no more than that, for to do so would be to spoil the rich experience of daytripper.
While the concept of daytripper is extremely ambitious, Moon and Ba execute it perfectly. The story is not mired down by the plot, and the characters thrive within the structure of the story rather than drowning within it.
Put quite simply: daytripper is literature at its finest and among my favorite books of all time.
~Scott William Foley, author of Andropia