I know Friday is usually the day for the second review of the week, but the computer I normally work on, the one with all my notes for today's book, is on the fritz, giving me the blue screen of death and telling me that there is an UNMOUNTABLE BOOT VOLUME. Apparently, this sounds worse than it is, but the repair process I'm wagering takes quite a bit of time.
At any event, while downloading the necessary repair file to my wife's computer, I finished reading David B.'s magnificent graphic novel Epileptic. The first half of this amazing autobiographical, hallucinatory, confessional novel has been out for a few years, leaving me hanging after I read it some time ago.
Of everything I've managed to read, nothing this year has made me feel so intensely the emotional churn of another's life than this book which would be moving enough even if it weren't based on the author's own life with his epileptic older brother. The artwork is bold black and white illustrations, at times reminiscent of more fantastically detailed wood cutting novels of Lynd Ward but bursting into riotous hallucinatory passages. Desperate for any kind of cure after having been failed by any number of medical drug solutions, Jean-Christophe's parents submit him to every possible remedy imaginable it seems. Rosicrucianism, macrobiotics, shamans, psychics who speak to the dead, Swedenborgians, Haitian voodoo, and on and on. Every one of these attempts influence the art which is loaded down with snakes, skulls, humanoid cats, the armies of Ghengis Khan, esoteric iconography, and the varying ages of the characters--always open to interpretation based on their moods. The artwork you can view samples of here, here, here, here.
Epileptic is a work which well rewards attention, attention which is very easily provided once you come to understand the graphical notions David B. is illuminating. This is easily and hands down the best thing I've read in a long, long time. I've read a library copy, but I definitely intend to get my own, as this novel, exhausting as it can be, is absorbing and fascinating, wrenching and laugh out loud funny. What are you still reading this for, people, go buy your copy now!