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Ice Haven (Pantheon Graphic Library) Paperback – Illustrated, January 18, 2011
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About the Author
DANIEL CLOWES is widely considered one of the best cartoonists of his generation; his adaptation of his own Ghost World graphic novel for the screen earned him an Oscar nomination. A regular contributor to The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and The Best American Comics, he lives in Oakland, California.
- Item Weight : 7.2 ounces
- Paperback : 88 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780375714696
- ISBN-13 : 978-0375714696
- Product Dimensions : 7.91 x 0.41 x 5.5 inches
- Publisher : Pantheon; Illustrated Edition (January 18, 2011)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 0375714693
- Best Sellers Rank: #158,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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One of the characters is named Wilder.
This is really a screen play ready to be made into a film.
Also, He is a great cartoonist- but I have already said this in 2 other reviews.
You’d think this sort of thing would stop the city cold, but, as in real life, most people remain chiefly concerned with their own artistic, emotional or sexual frustrations whilst the Goldberg case played out on the periphery of their lives.
For such a short work, Clowes has given us a vibrant cast of believable characters. There’s the pseudo-narrator, Random Wilder, who fancies himself to be a poet and to be in a feud with Ice Haven’s poet laureate Ida Wentz. Ida’s granddaughter, Vida, is a budding writer visiting from out-of-town and becomes interested in Mr Wilder’s poetry. She publishes a journal no one reads.
There’s Charles, Carmichael, and Paula, who go to school with the kidnapped boy, Mr Life of the Party up there. Charles is a hopeless romantic in love with his step-sister and he only talks to his younger friend George. Carmichael is an unpleasant little boy with a mean streak who gives Charles a book about Leopold and Loeb (there’s an excellent strip about that murder in the book). This leads Charles to think perhaps Carmichael has killed David.
Violet is Charles’ step-sister, they’ve just moved to Ice Haven and she’s miserable. She’s in love with an older boy named Penrod who lives elsewhere.
And Mr and Mrs Ames, the detective’s sent to work the case of the missing boy. Their marriage is not in the best state.
Then there’s Harry Naybors, a comic book critic who is a little meta for my taste, but we live in meta times, my friends.
The entire book is 88 pages of stylistically different comic strips, which combine to make a somewhat linear novel (with a couple detours through the mind of an anthropomorphic stuffed toy and the first human in Ice Haven in 100,000 b.c.)
It’s full of honest moments with very human characters, but the truest section was ‘Seersucker’, which perfectly capture the thoughts of many writers (and probably most humans), with such classic quotes as:
‘Today I must begin a schedule of focused and lucid daily writing. I must clear my mind of all distractions… I’ll never be able to concentrate fully until I finish cleaning the birdbath….After this, I’ll eat a quick dinner, and then straight to work!’
‘My life is fading away. The days speed by in a blur. How can I have wasted so much time? How much could I have accomplished if I had put my time to better use?…I have to fill every remaining second with intensive study and work… Today I will begin with Wells’s Outline of History and Sarton’s Six-Volume History of Science . From there I’ll branch out into various subcategories, like botany and ancient China… As soon as I finish this [household chore] I’ll go straight to the library…’
The ending was both surprising but fitting and gave everyone their moment. Ice Haven is definitely going on the re-readable shelf, I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys off-beat stories that make you think.
Top reviews from other countries
You'd think that the dark, sobering subject matter and the bright cartoonish visuals would clash - but they really don't. They make a great statement about the happy, shiny veneer of American suburbia and the hollow despair that often lies beneath.
As for the story... I think it's better than "Ghost World", albeit in a totally different way. The short, episodic structure works well, focusing on individual characters who thread in and out of each other's lives. The narrative is subtle, even though it jumps around a lot and most of the dialogue is either deftly realistic or intelligently overblown.
But I do have a few criticisms to finish up with...
1.) The David Goldberg kidnap case fizzles out into obscurity. Yes, we are given vague hints as to what may or may not have happened, but this was the chief undercurrent of the story and I feel it deserved more attention towards the end.
2.) Characters like Julie Patheticstein and Kim Lee entered this tale late and didn't bring much to the table. They took up space just when core characters like Wilder and Mr. Ames needed a little bit more space to breathe.
3.) Rocky the caveman and the Blue Bunny were interesting but extraneous. They felt like extra padding in a slim story that didn't need any.
4.) On the subject of slim: I think this book could and probably should have been twice as long. Fair enough, it came from a single issue of the author's "Eightball" comic - but if a book of this sort gets a chance to be redesigned, remarketed and resold as a hardback, isn't it the perfect excuse to revisit and expand the storyline? Rather than produce a more expensive copy of an already-available piece of work?
5.) Finally, the closing pages at the end where "Harry Naybors Explains Everything" felt a bit conceited to me. Too much intrusion from Daniel Clowes, who had remained beautifully aloof up until this point.