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Make Me a Woman Hardcover – September 28, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
These beautifully rendered watercolor and pencil collages capture confessional moments from bat mitzvah to the author taking her boyfriend home to West Palm Beach, Fla., to visit her mother. While treading in the autobiographical path of many cartoonists before her, Davis's sweet and well-observed sketch-diary entries and more structured pieces for such magazines as the Tablet deal with growing up as a Jewish woman. Some time is given to fashion and dating, but the focus is mostly on the daily humor of surviving a boring day job and squabbling family. What sets Davis apart, as least as she portrays herself, is her general sanity and good humor. The problems are more Family Circus than Fun Home: a sisterly blowup comes down to the disposition of a doughnut, and a relationship problem involves several half-eaten packages of cheese. An early strip deals with a trip to a fat farm, but even that ends with remarkably little self-loathing. What this collection does show is Davis's evolution from sometimes awkward swirls of penciled diary pages to constantly inventive and very accomplished painted art. It's hard not to find something to identify with or smile at in these pages. (Oct.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Womanhood is about femininity, but it’s just as much about maturity and marking cultural passages with formal and informal rituals. By collecting years of earlier story arcs and sketch pages in this volume, Davis offers readers access to all the ways in which she has addressed the goal of making herself a woman and being seen as a woman. The lushness and diversity of page types—many full-color, talkative snippets that extend across dozens of panels; some black-and-white single-panel cartoons; and others employing the busy but expressive nonlinear relational perspective Lynda Barry has honed—echo the varied story elements, which include Davis’ Bat Mitzvah, changes in girlhood friendships, dealing with parental pressure (and lack of thereof), dating, moving, and changing careers. While the volume can be read front to back as a memoir, each piece stands independently and as such may be attractive to different audiences. Good browsing for Davis’ cultural peers, their younger sisters, and their parents as well as any readers interested in the complexity of contemporary womanhood. --Francisca Goldsmith
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I first read these comics online, and the only new additions in the book are little black and white sketches, about a page or half a page long. They stand as a microcosm of the rest of book: they don't really DO anything. They're mostly cute jokes, or random thoughts. I can say the same thing about the individual comics that are collected in the book (which are usually about 2 pages long), in that there is not enough action and they are ultimately unsatisfying. Hence they are only 2 pages long: there is nothing cohesive that could sustain the stories if they kept going. I believe, however, that Davis could have done this, and I think she is quite talented. The threads about her non-Jewish boyfriend might have been extended.
The jokes are funny, and it is slightly interesting to see Davis's "slice of life" or whatever, since it is similar to mine, and I like the difference her gender brings... but I just felt like I needed something more substantial. Therefore, I recommend reading it online or getting it from a library.
I also recommend Adrian Tomine's excellent graphic novels (likeShortcomings) , issued by the same publisher. As for contemporary Jewish novels, Steve Stern and Nicole Krauss certainly deliver.