Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Jar of Fools Paperback – 2008
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
A lovely, short picture novel exploring the tenacious bond between an alcoholic stage magician and his cranky mentor. -- The New York Times Book Review
A piece of literature that speaks to the emotional core. -- Wired Magazine --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Publisher
Jason Lutes was born in New Jersey in 1967, and started reading and drawing comics as soon as he was able. The European comics he encountered during childhood visits to France made a great impression on him, and have proven a strong influence on his adult work. The first time he gave up comics was to attend the Rhode Island School of Design(BFA in Illustration, 1991), but publications such as R. Crumb's Weirdo, Art Spiegelman's RAW, and Chester Brown's Yummy Fur lured him back. Upon graduation, he moved to Seattle, lost his spleen in a bike accident, and washed dishes until he was hired by Fantagraphics Books.The second time he gave up comics was a year later, when he became disillusioned with the comics industry and quit Fantagraphics to wash more dishes. He was lured back by the opportunity to draw a strip for "The Stranger", a Seattle weekly, and that strip was later collected in the book "Jar of Fools". In 1995, after a stint as art director at "The Stranger", he quit to try his hand at being a full-time cartoonist. He currently lives in Seattle, where he infrequently produces chapters in the comics novel "Berlin" and fondly recalls happier days as a dishwasher. In 1996 Lutes started work on Berlin, a projected 600 page story set in Germany during the twilight years of the Weimar Republic. Berlin; Book One, collecting the first part of the trilogy, has just been published by Drawn & Quarterly. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
The story is about a troubled young man whose brother was an escape-artist who failed a straitjacket-river trick, whose romance has failed, and whose stage magician mentor is further slipping into Alzheimer's daily. At the same time, his ex-girlfriend is attempting to put her life together. When these lives intersect with a young girl and her con-artist father, magic happens--but not the fantastic type, just the magic of people finally connecting to life.
I hate to simply keep comparing it to other works, but sometimes the mind just works that way. With its magician characters and realistic depiction of street life, it recalled for me Nicholas Christopher's Veronica much more than any previous graphic novel. And while the story was interesting and the art entirely appropriate, the sum of it all still left me with a slightly vauge dissatisfaction, likely due to the somewhat downer ending with its open-ended quality (again, reminiscent of modern short stories, where the end is as much a beginning as anything). It's not going to appeal to action-adventure readers at all, but if you liked Clowes' Ghost World or Will Eisner's A Contract with God, you might enjoy this one.
Currently published through Drawn and Quarterly (as is Berlin), Jar of Fools revolves around failed stage magician Ernie Weiss. Ernie's life has been headed downhill since an unfortunate "accident" involving his brother's act as an escape artist. Now alcoholic and destitute, Ernie feels trapped by his past and is unable to overcome the demons that plague him. At the same time Ernie's former girlfriend Esther is stuck in a relationship that's going nowhere and in a dead-end job she hates, while Ernie's mentor Al Flosso tries desperately to escape both his nursing home and his memories of brighter days.
The revelations about each of these characters as the narrative unfolds are both heartbreaking and, paradoxically, uplifting. These characters have each metaphorically "lost the magic" in their lives and long to be free from the problems they face in their daily lives: their sexual dysfunctions, their inability to form relationships, their lack of self-worth. Yet the story focuses not on the endless tragedies they must endure but instead on how, by coming together, each of these people are able to conquer difficulties that overwhelmed them when alone. This is not a story about hitting rock bottom, but one about climbing back up again, about the hope that we draw from even the simplest contact with our fellow man.
These themes are explored with such power and subtlety through Lutes's inspired use of symbolism. For example, the ball and chain Ernie's brother wore as part of his escape act repeatedly appears and represents how Ernie is weighed down by his past, as does the top hat Al Flosso constantly wears. Dreams also play a large part of this narrative and reveal a great deal about the characters, especially Ernie's recurring dream remembrances of the day of his brother's death.
Rich in symbolic meaning, rife with very human characters, and permeated with thematic exploration, Jar of Fools is the epitome of what graphic narratives can offer. I have used the book in my classroom and would use it again, for it is not just a brilliant comic. It is a brilliant work of fiction, standing up to any work of literature in any other medium. It deserves to be studied alongside those other great works, to have a place not only in the classroom but on your bookshelf.
I've read some pretty good graphic novels in the past couple of months, but Jar of Fools was impressive on levels that a number of them never even thought to explore; it was definitely the best of the early-January batch. You have a burned-out magician, dangerously close to being homeless, pining over his lost girlfriend. You have the lost girlfriend, also pining. You have the mentor, stuck in a rest home. You have the con man, trying to get money to feed his kid, who shortchanges the lost girlfriend. And in weaving this tapestry, you have a wonderful little story about love, loss, and sacrifice.
Lutes' touch is spare when he's drawing, and light when he's writing. There's enough here for you to understand what's going on without having to go back and re-read anything, but you'll make a mental leap or two while you're going through it (this is a good thing). Everyone here is rather simple, though in no way does that mean they're two-dimensional; Lutes creates complex characters, but the timespan of the book is so short that we only get to see what he wants us to. It's a subtle, and impressive, move.
This is really a fantastic book; definitely one worth checking out, whether you're a fan of the graphic novel form or not. This might be the perfect book to show you that they do stand as literature; it's not quite on the level of something like Charles Burns' Black Hole, but you're not going to invest as much time, either. A perfect place to begin. ****