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Here (Pantheon Graphic Novels) Hardcover – December 9, 2014
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, December 2014: I love older buildings. I live in one now, and despite the single circuit electricity that shorts-out on a regular basis, the lack of insulation, and other aspects of its “charm,” the place has tales to tell. And I’m a sucker for stories. Who lived there before me? What were their lives like? Whose idea was it to paint the living room baby diarrhea green? But my limited imagination only goes back a hundred or so years, when the apartment was first built. In Here, groundbreaking graphic novelist Richard McGuire takes it much, much! further—visualizing the goings-on in a specific corner of a specific room over the course of hundreds of thousands of years (past, present, and future). The result is an orgy of the ordinary that is slyly clever and unexpectedly moving. McGuire first conceived of Here in 1989. It was a six-page comic whose influence ended up being as enduring as the room in which it is set. So, the arrival of this expanded edition is cause for much celebration in graphic novel circles, and as it turns out, in mine as well. I don’t typically read graphic novels, but Here is anything but typical. And, when I sit in my little corner of the world, I’m envisioning the future for a change—all the book-loving brethren who will inhabit that space after me, who I hope will discover and delight in Here, too. –Erin Kodicek
**A New York Times Notable Book of 2015**
Luc Sante, The New York Times Book Review
“Brilliant and revolutionary…. In “Here,” McGuire has introduced a third dimension to the flat page. He can poke holes in the space-time continuum simply by imposing frames that act as transtemporal windows into the larger frame that stands for the provisional now. “Here” is the comic-book equivalent of a scientific breakthrough. It is also a lovely evocation of the spirit of place, a family drama under the gaze of eternity and a ghost story in which all of us are enlisted to haunt and be haunted in turn.”
Chris Ware, The Guardian
“A book like this comes along once a decade, if not a century…. I guarantee that you’ll remember exactly where you are, or were, when you first read it.”
Jennifer Schuessler, The New York Times
“Getting from here to there can be hard enough. But it has taken Richard McGuire 25 years to do something even more complicated: get form here to here….the book promises to leapfrog immediately to the front ranks of the graphic-novel genre.”
Etelka Lehoczky, npr.com
“The magic of Here is that somehow, alchemically, this sparse little exercise begins to yank on your emotions. As your eye lurches around the page, as you flip back and forth between pages, an irresistible sentiment swells. Rare among conceptual works, Here manages to tug your heart even as it undercuts your comfortable role of reader.... Meanwhile, though, the past and present humans continue their tender little lives. Telling stories, playing, making love — what will be their fate? That’s just one of the countless questions Here leaves unanswered. Even so, it’s deeply satisfying. Kind of like a story that never ends.”
Marnie Kingsley, San Antonio Current
“Imaginative and ingenious, Here transcends the canon of traditional graphic novels. McGuire discusses the inconsistencies of memory, a central theme of Speigelman’s Maus series. He readapts the labyrinthine quality of Alison Bechel’s Fun Home and focuses on the small moments of everyday experience, similar to parts of Craig Thompson’ autobiographical graphic novel Blankets. However, Here retains almost no qualities of a novel: It is non-linear, there are no distinct characters, apart from the space, and there is no plot. Despite these seemingly large hurdles, McGuire produces a reading experience that is emotional, thought-provoking and interactive.... A brisk and brilliant read, Here combines genres and styles in a meditation on impermanence and the processes of memory.”
“McGuire is able to wring a surprising array of emotions from simple lines and blocks of muted colour interspersed with deliberately hackneyed jokes and the uncanny wisdom of the everyday. And the non-chronological arrangement seems faithful to how consciousness really works, the way we shape and reshape the story of ourselves by editing and re-editing highlights from our lives. I found it compelling to shuttle around in time to discover how earlier events informed later ones. Midway through the book one character says to another: ‘Life has a flair for rhyming events.’ Clearly, McGuire does too.”
“Even as the ground beneath your feet falls away, McGuire creates poetry out of the echoes that’s both playful and moving.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“For the long-awaited book-length ‘Here,’ McGuire adds lavish color and some plot, but he preserves the captivating, uncanny sense of love, anger and tragedy flying across the centuries while staying in one place.”
“A new, full-color graphic novel version of Here is stunning. Over more than three hundred pages, McGuire revisits and rebuilds his original strip with flashy interiors set in vivid pastels, and landscape sequences fleshed-out in moody watercolors, computer software-built textures, and sketchy pencil lines….. memorable and executed wonderfully”
Patrick Lohier, Boingboing.net
“I soon found myself immersed and often moved. Here has the surprising depth as a magician’s top hat. The combination of the surreal and the nostalgic are mesmerizing. The book is an ingenious epic of time and space, and I think readers everywhere, and of many ages, will find it delightful.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Expanding on an influential piece that first appeared in Raw in 1989, McGuire, best known for his illustrated children’s books, explores a single patch of land (apparently in Perth Amboy, N.J.) over the course of millions of years…. The flat, hard lines produce art that looks like an approximation of Edward Hopper’s clean bright paintings, created on an outdated computer program. McGuire threads miniplots and knowing references through his hopscotch narrative, building up a head of steam that’s almost overwhelmingly poignant. His masterful sense of time and the power of the mundane makes this feel like the graphic novel equivalent of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Later spreads flash with terrible and ancient supremacy, impending cataclysm, and distant, verdant renaissance, then slow to inevitable, irresistible conclusion. The muted colors and soft pencils further blur individual moments into a rich, eons-spanning whole. A gorgeous symphony.”
Booklist (starred review)
“McGuire’s quiet artwork in a subdued full-color palette reveals nuanced gestures beautifully, sometimes with precise lines, others in sketchy sepia tones, all of which emphasize the passage of time. The concept is stunningly simple, and in laying bare the universality of existence—its beauty, ugliness, and mundanity—it is utterly moving.”
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Top Customer Reviews
I grew up in a hundred-year-old house and now live in another one -- different town, different state. I often wonder about the previous occupants and furnishings, most recently about those in the time of WWI. This book inspires me to turn my curiosity into action by looking at local historical records.
It's the story of a place on Earth - a specific place. All the action is centered in a living room of a house. This house exists from the early 1900's into the mid 2100s. McGuire moves us far back (to 1870, 1775, 1620, 3M BCE) and forward (2051, 2113, 10000 (or so)). We see what was in the space before the house, way before the house, and after the house.
The time of the house's existence gets the most attention, and we see the wallpaper and paint change from 1914 to 1933 to 1959 to 1971 to 1986 to 1999 to 2007 to 2016. McGuire does an amazing job illustrating different chairs, clocks, televisions, clothing, lamps, paintings, tables, toys and other items that define a place in time. Those details are truly remarkable and stunningly accurate - it would be fascinating to watch or read an interview with Mr. McGuire and find out how much time he put into researching the Tiffany lamp or the old wooden rocker and other items.
Most significantly, he shows us how humans (and creatures) are all after the same things: eating, communicating, sleeping, romancing...simply and positively living. We see several families come and go, husbands and wives interact, children go, people age and die.
Even though it is never said, the house is set in NJ. It is evident because Benjamin Franklin and his son have a quarrel in a neighboring house in 1775. Franklin's son was the last colonial governor of NJ.
What I like most about this work is McGuire’s choice of “snippets” in time. Most of us think only of major historical events and personalities: ’”George Washington slept here”. Well, he does some of that--Benjamin Franklin makes an appearance. But he mixes that in with the tiniest and least momentous fragments of ordinary life, whether it’s an American Indian woman going for a swim in the 1300's, family photo sessions over a period of time in the middle of last century, or a cat stopping to lick its paw in 1999. He goes back three billion years in time, and also teases us with imagined glimpses into the future. There are pieces of conversations represented only by speech balloons, forcing one to imagine what the context might have been. All of this is endlessly fascinating and demands repeated reading to digest all the subtleties.
“Here” is just plain brilliant.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was expecting much more from 'Here' given the very positive reviews from the media.Read more