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Showing 1-10 of 17 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 25 reviews
on June 14, 2014
If you have never read any of Harvey Pekar's work you should NOT start with this anthology. I loved the movie and wanted to experience some of his comics, so I picked this (probably based on the cover by Drew Friedman). I guess I should have known by now that if the title says "new anthology" then the better stuff would be in the "original anthology". My main problem with the book is the range in the quality in the artwork. Harvey Pekar's writing shines when the artwork contributes to the narrative, adding a level of nuance. There are a few topnotch illustrators included, R Crumb, Drew Friedman and Chester Brown. Pekar's work is at its very best when Crumb is illustrating it, and I think there are only 3 included here. Much of the other artwork is bland at best, amateurish at worst.

If you are a fan of Pekar's writing then it won't matter to you. His observation of life's mundane moments, and his own neurotic foibles is always somehow interesting. But, I have become familiar with his earlier writing and enjoy reading that more. In these pieces he is married, settled down and known as a comic book writer. He still works as a file clerk, but also travels to comic book conventions, appears on David Letterman and such. His life seems more stable. In the earlier stories he is still more of loner; sometimes he is an open wound, other times he is a keen observer of other quirky characters.
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on January 1, 2010
Since I was born and raised in Cleveland, this anthology done by Harvey Pekar intrigued me. Right from the start it caught my attention with the story "Pa-ayper-Reggs!!" This first vignette told the story of Russian/Polish Jewish peddlers which were so prevalent on the streets of East Cleveland from the 1920's through the 1950's. My earliest memories were of these horse drawn wagons being driven by these old Eastern European men shouting "Pa-ayper-Reggs!!" For those of you who don't know what this says it's actually a plea to collect old paper rags. What I really remember was that my Mother said that despite their looks these were men of wealth. Obviously this taught me that wealth can't be assessed on looks alone.
The stories spun from Pekar's hand are eclectic and are told in no particular chronological order. The subjects range from Harvey's childhood to his school years through to his rather ordinary job as a VA office clerk. His background shows his Eastern Jewish roots and in many of his stories he tells of his parent's lives and beliefs and how they raised him in the suburbs of Cleveland Heights. As story after story unravels, we see a man of above average intellect confronting everyday problems most of us confront every day. He surprisingly tells of his foibles and mistakes along with his temper that he inherited from his Father. Many of the depictions show areas of Cleveland well known to inhabitants of the Western Reserve. Among the depictions we see "The West Side Market", "Cedar and Lee" and "Hopkins International Airport".
Also I found the stories concerning his TV appearances on the David Letterman Show to be very confrontational and a contra-snub to all things "New York City". Pekar's intellectual argument to Eastern snobbery shows the essence of what we call the toughness and grit of life on the streets of Cleveland. Pekar's stories involve the everyday common man trying to negotiate the ebbs and flows of routine day in and day out lives. Harvey's views of life are far from the Eastern upper crust Jews of the East who matriculate from Ivy League colleges. His intellectual capacity is what it is in the East, but life as he experiences it represents life at the level which most people live at in the Midwest.
American Splendor continues to capture life at the very precipice where the East meets the Midwest and that would be Northeast Ohio. This is great graphic story telling from Pekar's hand. I don't possess enough stars!!!
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on March 31, 2016
I found myself reading each page slower and slower as the book moved forward. I didn't want this anthology to end. Each story offered an indigenous glimpse into Harvey's time in Cleveland. When I thought I could predict where the narrative was heading, Harvey would throw a curveball. A master of alternative thinking, of original scripture, of making the mundane and expected stand out and stand tall, to the point where you can't stand to see the book finish!
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on April 20, 2008
This new collection of Harvey Pekar's quotidian American Splendor comic is not only an excellent introduction for those new to his work; it's also a great anthology for those of us who have read and loved him for years (especially since, toward the end of the volume, some of his very early stuff is collected).

Some of the most gemutliche, warmest pieces in the collection feature characters from Pekar's VA hospital days. Toby is present several times, but my personal favorite of all the VA panels is "Walkin' an' Talkin," where in just two pages Pekar captures the warmth, humor, and generosity of his co-workers. Three stories beautifully speak to Pekar's paranoia and his obsessive-compulsiveness: "Hysteria," "Lost and Found" (a story which introduced me to the novelist Italo Svevo, whom I've since come to really love), and "Time Flies...Time Drags." Three more stories speak to Pekar's painful history with David Letterman, including a documentary on his final appearance on the Letterman Show in which he tried to let the world know that GE, ABC's owner, engaged in morally dubious practices. (If you get the chance to watch any of the Letterman/Pekar exchanges, it's a real experience. Letterman comes across as such a smarmy yuppie, who really seems to delight in trying to humiliate Pekar.)

Also included in the volume is one of the delightful oral histories of Cleveland's Jewish life in the early twentieth century, illustrated by R. Crumb, and three single page stories illustrated in Drew Friedman's wonderful faux-photographic style.

But there are also a couple of disconcerting stories: "Broken Window" and "Festering." Both of them suggest that Harvey was attacked on at least a couple of occasions by an out-of-control father. Could this be true? Just a couple of years ago in a radio interview, Harvey described his father in quite different terms.

A great collection from a guy who walks an' talks the ordinary life.
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on April 12, 2015
This set of graphic vignettes from Harvey’s life is, like all of Pekar’s work, drawn by a variety of illustrators, in a collaboration that gives multiple shadings to the constant undercurrent of a life described with authentic humanity, through the rise of his moments of fame and the testing of his steady moral clarity. This is life, described, not contrived, and as such Pekar makes us more mindful and appreciative of the moments and people in our lives.
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on September 6, 2013
I like the American Splendor anthologies. I have two. The stories are often short and not much happens in them. They are just little glimpses at life. Harvey Pekar is a paranoid self-opinionated, short-tempered fellow, probably the sort of guy I would keep away from. And yet I like the comics. I think they are great. Go figure.
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on May 14, 2007
If you can't love Harvey Pekar, you can't love anyone. He is a lovely man, with as many neuroses as the rest of us, who listens and watches and reports on the people and world around him. His kindness and caring for the people who populate his world - these are real stories with real people Harvey knows, including his family- is obvious and makes reading his work a delight. I found the Pekar books to be like peanuts - I kept wanting more and more and hate to finish one - unless I have another ready to read. Harvey's 'comics" are the first graphic novels I've spent time reading, and I am hooked. The drawings add immeasurably to the story - a format I would like to see developed further in the future.
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on September 30, 2015
My son-in-law asked for it. He had read it before. The drawings are great. Saw the movie, with Paul Giamatti and he seemed to have a lot of insight about himself and those around him. A different perspective.
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on May 27, 2013
This is a lot of what Pekar is about. I think you get it or you do not. The point is it is all there for you.
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on July 8, 2015
Dry, depressing, and brilliant.
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