Overwhelmingly good review on the Guild of Outsider Writers by Victor Schwartzman.
Link: I posted a link to this a while ago, but i wanted to add it to my clipping pile. This one blew me away when i read it, i owe Victor a drink...
Therefore Report! (a post-Rapture graphic novel)
Jim Munroe, Salgood Sam
Available through No Media Kings, www.nomediakings.org
Reviewed by Victor Schwartzman
This is not a review in the Ain't It Cool News style, which is usually as much about the reviewer as it is about the book. But you really need to understand why I did NOT want to read this book right now, much less review it. Yet, here we are. And this is the first draft of the review, right now that's all I have time for, but this review needed to be done. It needed to be done now. Guess that tells you something. Later, I'll go back and edit.
You need to read the whole review, so click on 'read more' to find out how busy my life is, and why I had to read this book and write the review anyway.
I am a founding member of Outsider Writers, and run our book review and Agit Prop 101 poetry page. My policy for the book review page is that I do as few reviews as possible-I don't have the time to read nearly as much as I should, plus it is good to have as wide a variety of reviewers possible rather than the review section being my personal blog. I've done maybe five of the ninety or so reviews on the site.
More to the point, I just don't have the time right now to read books and write reviews, due to more than the usual situations. About two months after we started OW, my mom, 91, had a mild heart attack that put her in the hospital. Real heart attacks are not likely Hollywood heart attacks-no horrible sudden pain, no grasping the left arm, no falling to the floor. Instead, they creep up on you, starting with a discomfort in your chest. Mom ended up being in the hospital for about three months. In the end, she was too weak to be discharged back to her retirement community apartment. That meant her going into a 'personal care home', with about one day's actual notice when she left the hospital. Moving her was traumatic for her-she knows she was moving into a 'final stage' kinda place. I was seeing her in the hospital almost every day, plus speaking with her on the phone each day. Clearing out her apartment was difficult, and now my house is full of her things.
Then she had the second heart attack, three weeks after moving into the nursing home. More hospital time. Of course, all that is a far bigger problem for her than me, but I am her primary care giver.
Then there are the problems with my day job (don't we all have problems with our day job), my dealing with high blood pressure medications, and now apparently developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes I feel I don't have the take to eat and feed my body, much less my mind.
So not only did I NOT want to write a review of this book, I had no time to read it. When it came in the mail two days ago I was tired, depressed, and capable only of watching Dr. House ream out people on tv. So I opened the package (I'd ordered the book from No Media Kings, it was cheap and came with some cool stickers by the way) I had no intention whatsoever of reading it then-y'hear me, Munroe and Sam?
Unfortunately, I opened the book and looked at the first page.
See, this is the damn problem with this damn book-you're screwed if you read the first page, because, based on my experience, you then have to read the second. And the third. In the end, I read three quarters of the book in one sitting, and then finished it yesterday as soon as I woke up & had some coffee. Clearly, Munroe and Sam have no respect whatsoever for me and my problems. Now I'm writing this review, because the book is just out & I figured you need to know about it.
"Therefore Repent" is a graphic novel which takes place after the Rapture-after the true believers, 144,000 of them, rise up to Heaven. It ain't about them. It's about those of us who are left behind. It's about the Army of God then returning to Earth to clear up the non-believers-the Army of God looking a lot like U.S. soldiers in full battle gear, complete with automatic weapons, except these soldiers also fly around with angel wings on their backs. And then there are the talking dogs.
I'm an agnostic (I don't believe in god but I do believe in hedging my bets), so I have no particular interest in the Rapture-but actually, either do Munroe or Sam. Munroe, who wrote the text, and Sam, who illustrated it, are far more interested in those of us who are left to continue their lives, under the literal gun of the true believers. Like President Bush, who didn't make it up to heaven, and who now tours the U.S. with a makeshift Jesus, saying he had to be left behind because someone's gotta steer the ship of state (steer it straight for the rocks, but that's another story).
This is a novel about the magic within all of us, about what stops us from realizing we have that magic, and how we can find that magic again and use it.
Graphic novels are long comic books, essentially. Jim Munroe has a vivid imagination and interest in politics and our social mores. Salgood Sam (whose name, guys, is not actually Maxim Douglas spelled backwards, but it does come close) matches Munroe's imagination and interests in his art. The art is black and white, ragged in spots-a style perfectly fitting the story itself, where the characters lived ragged lives in situations often beyond their (immediate) understanding. There are plenty of cinematic aspects to the art, with Sam playing with different angles, big panels and small panels, showing a lot of versatility working only in black and white. As for Munroe, he paints a large palette himself-our entire society. But the writing is not just a way of expressing his concerns. It was the story that sucked me in, even when I did not want to read anything.
Raven and Mummy are two people who saw the 'chosen few' rising up from the earth. One of them started rising also-but could not leave the other behind. So now they are both stuck with the other "immoral" non-believers. Raven wears a mask that makes her look like a raven-when we see what is under the mask, it's a shock. Her boyfriend, Mummy-well he looks wrapped up. In the midst of the world falling to hell (hahaha) they have relationship problems. It ain't easy in their world, with the Army of God swooping down on angel wings to machine gun them if they step out of line. And then there are the talking dogs.
Raven and Mummy make friends in a new neighbourhood, where people struggle to carry on with their lives as "normal" society has fallen apart. They try to find lost friends, including Lillith, with whom they communicate by "shemail" (email, but through the head and body of a woman who's specially hooked up). There is magic in the air, but it is very risky to look into yourself to see what you can do with the Army of God flying around ready to pop your cap.
There is a lot more to this slim book. There are twists I did not see coming, and which I can not tell you about. There is content I did not expect, but which I found very relevant to the life I have. And the art was a times challenging, moody and grim-it is not depicting a pretty world and feels no need to leave you feeling good.
If this book MADE ME READ IT, then I'd say-buy it.
Labels: News, press, repent press, reviews, Therefore Repent
posted by max at 1/18/2008 02:54:00 AM