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How the World Was: A California Childhood Paperback – July 15, 2014
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“How the World Was is a companion graphic biography to Guibert's Alan's War.” ―VOYA
“This is a magical and important work of art.” ―Publisher's Weekly, starred review
“This epic graphic memoir spans oceans and generations, with a narrative as engrossing as the artistry that illustrates it.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review for Alan's War
“Guibert's fluid, simple but assured linework captures the personalities of Cope and his friends, elevating the material to a far more affecting level.” ―Publisher's Weekly, starred review for Alan's War
About the Author
New York Times-Bestselling author Emmanuel Guibert has written a great many graphic novels for readers young and old, among them the Sardine in Outer Space series, The Professor's Daughter with Joann Sfar, the critically acclaimed WWII biography Alan's War, and the New York Times-bestselling The Photographer with Didier Lefevre. His most recent graphic novel is a prequel to Alan's War, How the World Was. Guibert lives in Paris with his wife and daughter.
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Top Customer Reviews
The first person narration tells the childhood tale of a boy born in 1925 as he grew up in Southern California -- a simpler California than the one that exists today. His quiet memories are occasionally updated to let the reader know what happened to friends and relatives (mostly, they died "in poverty and in sorrow"). Some of the images are drawings of family photographs and in many ways, the story is the narration of a family album.
The story is told in a gentle, honest voice that accentuates its depth of feeling. Reading How the World Was is like listening to a beloved grandfather explain the joys and hardships of his family's life and his own awe of the ever-changing world. The narrator has learned to live with grief but the grief lives on in his memory. He cannot change the hard times -- that's how the world was -- but they have taught him to appreciate life. When he quotes Rodin's belief that artists experience pain as well as "the bitter joy of being able to comprehend and express it," Emmanuel Guibert is clearly talking about the effort he devoted to this volume. How the World Was is a surprisingly moving story and a remarkably effective feat of story-telling.
This is a good graphic memoir, a biography instead of a superhero book. This follows in the graphic novel tradition of Maus, Persepolis, and Alan's War among others. Each of those I would recommend over this book. However, this is a fine book to explore after you have read some of the rest.
The '20s and '30s were an era in which America and Southern California became recognizably 'modern' in many ways, but which in others, such as the primitive standard of medicine, was still mired in the past, with tragic consequences for Cope and his mother. For those interested in regional history and in a sense of the rhythms, the joys and tragedies of the everyday life of this period, Cope's memoir is a rewarding read and very much recommended.