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Kill My Mother: A Graphic Novel Hardcover – August 25, 2014
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“[O'Riordan's] poetic talent for simile and image is certainly transferred intact to prose.”
- Laura Lippman, New York Times Book Review, front page review
“Lovers are lost and mourned in these sharp and sometimes violent stories, and characters suffer through turbulence both literal and metaphorical, haunted by questions they never asked. O'Riordan is particularly skilled at finding the perfect image or detail to bring these worlds to life.”
- Calvin Reid, Publishers Weekly
“These are subtle fictions, a work in which mannerisms and casual gestures count for a lot. . . . [A] work that feels fully lived in.”
- Art Spiegelman
“Kill My Mother stretches the long-form graphic novel into formidable textures of compact expression, daring to try things that film noir could only dream of.”
- Chris Ware
“A quietly excellent collection of short stories. . . . You are never in doubt that you are reading the work of an elegant and greatly accomplished writer.”
- Paul Levitz
“O'Riordan willfully mines the less glossy side of LA . . . with haunting effect.”
- David Small
“Wonderfully lyrical and bittersweet.”
- Stan Lee
“An impressive range of stories that run from reflective to highly dramatic, and O’Riordan’s verbal polish as a poet shines.”
- Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“Adam O’Riordan’s stories have an uncanny ability to draw us into the lives of characters who are at once self-possessed and vulnerable. It means that we read about them in a state of excited anxiety―impressed by their worldly competence, but sensing that failure and even tragedy are never far away. The effect is compelling, and all the more so for being achieved through a range of forms and voices which make the collection as ambitious in its reach as it is concentrated in its vision of human behavior.”
- Keir Graff, Booklist, Starred review
“A fantastic read… Very funny and genuinely moving. Feiffer’s layouts owe much to his mentor, Will Eisner, but his spidery art and absurdist prose are all his own.”
- School Library Journal
About the Author
Jules Feiffer is a cartoonist, playwright, screenwriter, children's book author and illustrator, and member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He teaches a humor-writing class at Stony Brook Southampton College and lives in East Hampton, New York.
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1st read: captured a sense of the full-evil and half-evil noir characters—along with some appealingly vulnerable heroes (but that doesn't mean Jules Feiffer won't kill them off)—and tried to stay up with the plot flips and somersaults.
2nd read: went deeper into the story and now took the time to look—really look—at Feiffer's gorgeous artwork. BTW, if you happen to be an art student be sure to also study the innovative page layouts.
Thank you, Mr. Feiffer—thank you for giving me two extraordinary evenings.
There will certainly be a third.
This is relevant to my experience in reading Jules Feiffer’s KILL MY MOTHER. Say that I mute the sound and evaluate this graphic novel only through its images? Then, this is clearly the work of a preeminent and unique illustrator, whose drawings absolutely nail nuanced variations of vitality, angst, fluidity, grace, terror, and so on. IMHO, whatever Feiffer was trying to do visually in KMM, he achieved. And an element of this success is surely his layout, where the placement of his drawings is always interesting and his text acts as sinuous and infallible guide. I never lost the flow.
But how about the text? Well, the story of KMM is unabashedly American Noir, with tough dames, dipsomaniacal PIs, tense family relationships, licentiousness, and duplicity in Hollywood. As with many of the American Noir masterpieces, it is also a trifle overwrought and makes better sense as homage than as layered story with nifty plot-twists. But if you like the tropes of this genre, you won’t be disappointed in the story. Won’t provide any plot summaries here, although I must say that this novel could be read as a darkly sentimental tribute to the resilience of families.
The last graphic novels that I read were “Maus I” and “Maus II”, which Art Spiegelman published about 25 years ago. But Feiffer has started something and his new opus COUSIN JOSEPH is in my TBR pile.
Rounded up and recommended if you like the genre.
Jules Feiffer has collected an amazing variety of awards. He is the author of at least two classic Children’s stories, the Giving Tree and the Phantom Toll booth. He learned the art of cartooning from the best having worked with among others Will Eisner. His career includes scripting and writing well known titles like Carnal Knowledge and Little Murders. I first got to know his name from his days as a cartoonist and writer in the Playboy magazines I used to sneak from my older brother’s hidden stash.
Kill My Mother is his homage to the classic hard boiled detective, noir books of the 1940’s and 1950’s. In this case the hard boiled detective is mostly in advanced stages of alcohol addiction and anything but heroic. His death is early in the book and he is not missed. The characters that carry the story forward are a group of sisters and a daughter. All flawed and at all tend to be drawn alike. The male characters are mostly there to prop up the story line and never to be admired.
Out of this does come a happy rather a happyish ending, one final foreshadowed plot twist and a case for a feminist variation on the noir narrative.
My final point: It's as amazing that Feiffer is trying to pull this off in his 80s as it is that Tony Bennett is still singing. I hope they both continue.