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Pretending Is Lying Hardcover – February 7, 2017
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"Here's a terrific example of the current wave of great comics from Europe. Dominique Goblet's approach is postmodern, with a scruffy, anything-goes mix of styles and moods, but it's marked everywhere by her forays into photography. She intersperses her tale – an autobiographical account of family, a lover, truth, lies and brutality – with images that look like photos." —Etelka Lehoczky, NPR Book Concierge, "2017's Great Reads"
“It is a rare gift to come across a book as tender, affecting and complete as Pretending is Lying.” — Sheila Heti, The New York Times Book Review
“This beautifully rendered, emotionally intense, and chronologically scattered reminiscence essentially questions the veracity of all autobiography.” —Publishers Weekly
"Primarily pencil-sketched, Goblet’s art is unbridled and alternately busy and peaceful. She uses lettering to great effect, too, expressing mood, feeling, and, in her father’s case, drunkenness with the appearance of the text. Some pages feature only vague, dimly lit shapes, as if there are ghosts hovering on the periphery of Goblet’s relationships, her memoir’s primary subject. This is an imaginative, nonlinear rendering of an artist’s life so far.” —Booklist
"A touchstone work of comics autobiography, from one of the genre’s key innovators, is finally translated, complete with expressive lettering newly handcrafted by the artist.” —Sean Rogers, Globe and Mail
"Pretending Is Lying is a perceptive and poignant contribution to the fields of both experimental comics and graphic autobiography, and well worth the read.” — Hans Rollman, Pop Matters
"Combining paint, ink, charcoal, and pencil, Goblet's mixed-media pages feel wet, textured, bleeding…. [Pretending is Lying is] part of a rich tradition of international graphic memoirs from Art Spiegelman’s Maus to Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis to Riad Sattouf’s The Arab of the Future...We're invited to peer into the artist's mind.... It is a privilege to serve as [her] confidante, if only for a while…" — Chantal McStay, BOMB
“Dominique Goblet spent twelve years putting parts of her life to rest—explicit snippets and fragments that condense her entire childhood and sketch a tender portrait of the adult she is today...Goblet hides nothing. And she forgives, weaving together, in gray and black and on yellowing paper, with strokes of her brush, a shocking kind of autobiography.” —L’Express
“Precise and poetic, perceptive and unflinching, Dominique Goblet’s comics cannot lie.” —Bill Kartalopoulos, series editor, The Best American Comics
“One of the most beautiful and successful books to be published by L’Association.” —du9
“Faire semblant c’est mentir raises interesting and upsetting questions about our relationships with our loved ones and the way in which we build those relationships.” —Actua BD
About the Author
Dominique Goblet was born in 1967 in Brussels, Belgium, and studied illustration at St. Luke’s Institute. Known for her wide range of artistic mediums and eclectic style of visual storytelling, she was an early contributor to the comics publisher Fréon’s anthology Frigorevue. Involved from the start in the creation of the experimental comics publisher Frémok, she published several books with them: Portraits crachés (1997), Souvenir d’une journée parfaite (2002), and Les hommes-loups (2010). At the same time she worked with the Parisian publishing house L’Association and published two books with them: Pretending Is Lying (2007) and Chronographie (2010), a book of double portraits of her and her daughter made once a week for ten years; both received a number of nominations and prizes, including the EESI award at the Angoulème festival and the Prix Töpffer. Most recently she has published Plus si entente (Actes Sud BD/Frémok), a collaboration with the Berlin artist Kai Pfeiffer. Artist, comics author, and professor of comics and illustration, she is also certified as an electrician, plumber, and welder.
Sophie Yanow is a cartoonist and translator. She is the author of War of Streets and Houses and was a fellow at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont.
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On the adult content scale, there is some sexual content- nothing over the top but enough that I would caution giving to young teens. I mean you don't really "see" anything and you get worse in comics.... but still. I give it a three. Even still.... parental guidance is suggested.
Goblet uses many different styles in her artwork -- many of the drawings are gallery-caliber pencil sketches, but there are also deceptively detailed drawings meant to evoke those of a child, and some that are more abstracted. The book ends with a series of full-page color panel paintings that look like Rothkos. This is a visually superb book.
The story itself, however, is a bit thin and sometimes hard to follow. Much of it deals with the Goblet character's relationship with her father, who is an interesting figure. But there are also hints of an abusive, possibly mentally ill mother, and too little time is spent on this for it to be clear. Some elements are also confusing; her father's new partner, cleverly drawn with a ghostlike face that looks like that of Munch's "The Scream", is openly hostile to the Goblet character on their first meeting, but bizarrely expects her to leave her young daughter at their apartment even as she throws Goblet out. There are reasons that this could make sense, but Goblet does not explain it.
Part of the book also deals with Goblet's own romantic partner, and these sections are weaker -- their relationship is very vaguely cast.
Still, this book is well worth it for the visuals, if you are a fan of serious sequential art.
This is not as highly so in either, but I enjoyed it. There are gaps in the story-line in both the graphics and the narrative, or a connection between the pretending of the Father and of the Lover were intended to be obvious. And weren't always sharply so in my mind.
Particularly in the story of the lover, the leaving and the return seemed muddled, with the reasons for his return perhaps as much pretending as when he pretended to be faithful before leaving.
It is worth the time spent, however.