"Money was maliciously introduced in ancient times as a tool of enslavement" -
Michael Tellinger

"The present belongs to the future and future generations, and all old laws, religious and other, should be abrogated immediately. Free us!" - Vinay Gupta on Twitter

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - R. Buckminster Fuller

"You find the strangest ways to be positive!" - Diane Duane, Wizards Abroad

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Carnet de Voyage by Craig Thompson (book review)

In 2004 the author, a cartoonist from Oregon, traveled to Europe on a book-signing tour, with a side trip to Morocco. Rather than writing a conventional journal, he kept notes in the form of drawings and cartoons. Upon returning, he turned his notes into this delightful graphic novel.

Through many images and a few words, Thompson shares with readers how he was met in France by friends, fans, and publisher representatives, and tells of larking about -- finding magic, meaning, and synchronicity -- in Paris and the French countryside.
Moving on to Morocco, the author's experience was darker as he struggled to relate to a more alien and less-welcoming culture. There he encountered everything from homesickness to diarrhea to hilariously fractured conversations, but in time he saw more of the country and mercifully did learn how to get around. Finally, back in Europe, he continued his book tour in Geneva and Barcelona, and saw the Alps and the south of France.

Along with striking images of people and places, Thompson shares, with winningly self-deprecating humor, an interior journey of emotional ups and downs having to do with a recent breakup. Black-and-white drawings range in style from realistic sketches to surrealistic riffs to funny cartoons, sometimes working together visually and thematically to create layers of depth and to amplify a point.

Combined with pithy captions, the art captures to perfection and with a great sense of immediacy what it's like to be young and on one's own on a foreign adventure. By turns lighthearted and profound, Carnet is an illuminating and charming experience that should have broad appeal.

(adapted from review written for SLJ Adults/teens column)

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