Posted Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Below you'll find our recommendations for non-fiction graphic novels that should be considered for The CBC's Canada Reads 2012 Event. Our main five recommendations went live on The Canada Reads site today, but we had a huge list of great Canadian non-fiction graphic novels that we wanted to make you aware of, and if someone else had a chance to recommend them over at the CBC, well, that'd be just lovely.
First and foremost, please head to The CBC Canada Reads Page and vote for your favourite graphic novel (about 2/3 of the way down the page). Then return and check out our full recommendations below.
We here at The Beguiling campaigned hard for Jeff Lemire's ESSEX COUNTY to win Canada Reads 2011, and we feel with good reason. Graphic novels are no longer an emerging medium, but a fully formed one capable of telling any type of story, and telling it very well indeed. How fortunate for us, and for all Canadians, that Canada Reads 2012 will focus on non-fiction as some of the most noted recent graphic novels have been true stories. Many of the graphic novels that people respond to the most strongly consist of history, reportage, and especially memoir. Who hasn't heard of Art Spiegelman's MAUS, Alison Bechdel's FUN HOME, or Marjane Satrapi's PERSEPOLIS? These are all excellent, internationally celebrated pieces of personal and public history, and we look forward to recommending the following Canadian non-fiction titles to join their ranks.
Our Dream List
Buy it in The Beguiling Store]
Reunion, by Pascal Girard: This deeply personal reflection on a man's impending high-school reunion if hilarious, if often cringe-inducing. Pascal the character ultimately becomes obsessed with who was a winner and who was a loser at school, and needing to be seen as the former at the reuinon. It's a comedy of errors from this point on, made all the more enjoyable--and painful--by the knowledge that this really happened. While the author describes this work as "semi-autobiographical", we feel after discussing it with him that it more than meets the qualifications of being entered into this event. [Beguiling Store]
I Can't Believe we had to leave off...
But wait, there's more! We hate that we had to recommend only five works of non-fiction, and while our top 5 are all worthy we hope that you will consider these other excellent titles.
Complete works, by David Collier: David Collier is a cartoonist who has worked entirely in a non-fiction mode, be it biography, history, or memoir. His newest, CHIMO, is the story of him returning to the Canadian armed forces in his late 40s to again begin service, but I'd personally recommend his biography of David Millgard, SURVIVING SASKATOON contained in PORTRAITS FROM LIFE, to remind our 'tough on crime' conservative government of the danger of punishing the innocent. [Beguiling Store]
Hello Me Pretty, by Line Gamache: The autobiographical story of the author and her mentally disabled sister, and their life growing up in the suburbs of Montreal. Integrating Expo '67, the FLQ crisis, and changing social attitudes towards disability. [Beguiling Store]
Drop In, by David Lapp: This frank, autobiographical effort by Lapp chronicles his work as an art-instructor in one of Toronto's poorest urban neighbourhoods. Compelling and illuminating. [Beguiling Store]
Kenk: A Graphic Portrait, by Poplak, Jansen, Gilmore, Marinkovich: A 300 page journalistic portrait of Ivor Kenk, "The world's most prolific bicycle thief." Built from found footage and interviews, illustrations and archive material, this cutting edge work is truly unique in style and presentation. [Beguiling Store]
Intended For Younger Readers, of value to adults
These graphic novels are intended for a middlegrade or young adult audience, but their expertise, insight, and skill make them excellent reads for adults.
Tyranny, by Lesley Fairfield: Informed by her real life experiences, TYRANNY chronicles the life of a young girl, Anna, and her descent into anorexia and bulimia. A shocking, difficult, and ultimately redemptive read. [Beguiling Store]
Mirror Mind, by Tory Woollcott: A biography of a young woman's struggles with dyslexia, told skillfully and passionately. An excellent read. [Beguiling Store]
Books we would totally put forward if we weren’t convinced some philistine would vote it off for not having enough (any) words:
Seriously. Seriously. Not enough words? A gross criticism.
Southern Cross, by Lawrence Hyde: A stunning wordless woodcut novel about the atomic bomb testing by the United States in the south pacific following World War II. [Beguiling Store]
Books that seem they should fit for non-fiction but have just enough fiction in them to bump them out
These are great graphic novels and worth your time, often informed by real-life events and history. Unfortunately, by the author's own admission the bulk of the material is made up or significantly dramatized, to the point where they should be eligible in future years of Canada Reads, but perhaps not this one for non-fiction.
Paul Goes Fishing, by Michel Rabagliati: A fantastic cartoonist and storyteller, Rabagliati chooses to filter his life experiences and observations through Paul, an affable everyman character living with his wife and children in Quebec. In this last volume to have been translated into English (another is coming soon!), Paul reflects on his life and childhood as he and his wife try to conceive a child, and their vacation to rural Quebec that acts as a turning point in their lives. All of the Paul books are gorgeously illustrated and utterly charming, and we highly recommend them. [Beguiling Store]
It’s a Good Life if You don’t Weaken, by Seth: Cartoonist/illustrator Seth's seemingly autobiographical hunt for an obscure and forgotten New Yorker cartoonist who lived in Canada... [Beguiling Store]
The Klondike, by Zach Worton: Rich with detail and populated with the real characters of the Yukon gold rush, this fantastic graphic novel is a stirring piece of historical fiction, and beautifully illustrated vistas, informed by research and folklore. [Beguiling Store]
- Chris @ The Beguiling