Friday, February 01, 2008

Don't Go Where I Can't Follow by Anders Nilsen

I followed Austin Kleon's recommendation and bought a copy of Don't Go Where I Can't Follow by Anders Nilsen (with Cheryl Weaver.)  Not from Amazon, it wasn't available there.  Instead it was from Drawn & Quarterly.  From Canada it turns out. As I open the wrapper I see scribbled in ball point pen on the shipping cardboard, 


And I'm already delighted.  It's a slight book.  An artist's book.  Beautifully designed.  It's highly edited, a kind of minimal scrapbook with different media.  A hand written letter on spiral notebook pages, some postcards, original cartoons,  color photographs (of the town near where my sister used to live in France, that I never got to visit...She'd originally ID it by mentioning the famous comic book convention there annually.  She thought it would be the kind of event I would know about.), black and white photos, more drawings and handwritten notes, more cartooning.  It's a delightful immersion that ends in heartbreak.  But I knew that going in.  I knew there was no happy ending.  I just didn't know how much I'd enjoy the experience.  That is, if you can enjoy yourself while you're crying for someone else.   Which, yes, often seems to be the case for me.

Just the other night I attended a reading at Book People for a similar story - yet this time a rocker critic and his writer rocker critic girlfriend.  Instead of cartoons, his unifying device was mix tapes.  Romantic.  Charming.  There were many satisfied fans already in the audience.  I'm a sucker for the concept but something in the reading kept me away and distant.  But it's interesting to think of these heartbroken men memoralizing their too short loves.  There's a little cottage industry.  It reminds me how much I loved Matthew Geller's Difficulty Swallowing back in 1981.  Same kind of story.  Same artful hand.

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