Thursday, June 7, 2012

Book Review: Harvey Pekar's Cleveland

Sometimes you have to start from the end. I have heard all about Harvey Pekar the comic book writer (I think he prefers that term to graphic novelist) for years but I haven't been able to get past the apparent mundane nature of his subject (himself and his life, mostly) and the rough-edged, squishy feel of the associated artwork.

Pekar died recently and his last book, Cleveland, is a memoir that spans most of his life. I'm not sure why I got it from the library since I tried and failed to connect with his work before, but this last book is different. I was immediately brought in because from the first few pages it's clear that this book is as much about his hometown as it is about him. As his character walks around he narrates Cleveland's history and only later gets into his own life's details. It feels like an urban hike that I like to do (Boston's the best city for that, by the way), and it's a beautiful demonstration of the way the person is tied up in the place.

So I don't review every graphic novel I read here (sometimes it would take longer to write the review than to read the book) but I want to recommend this one. Now that I've started to see myself in Pekar, maybe I'll be able to finish his other more acclaimed books.

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