09 March 2012

My High School Experience Was Nothing Like This... Thank God

Trade paperback, 301 pages
Published 2002
Acquired January 2012

Read February 2012
The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures
by Pheobe Gloeckner

I read this book for my seminar on the graphic novel, but it's one-quarter comics at best.  Most of it is a diary written by a girl who is sleeping with her mother's boyfriend, doing drugs, and other various shenanigans.  At times it is harrowing and/or touching (especially in the last section), but it is mostly an unremitting stream of problematic behavior with no clear motivation or self-reflection, which gets old after a while.  Also I feel like this is one of those books that wants to be about "real" teenagers when it's no such thing at all.

The comics were the best part.  They're clearly not the work of the book's narrator, Minnie, seemingly drawn by some third-person omniscient narrator instead. There's no overt narrative voice-- the only captions just give locations-- letting us step outside of Minnie momentarily, and thus actually feel for her.  We can reflect even if she can't.

Two of the comics were even better than that: they were Minnie's "own" work, crude comics resembling the "comix" she loves so much and showing what she thinks about sex, women, her family, and herself.  I felt like these brief strips were much more potent looks into her thoughts than the other 300-something pages of the book.  Had there been more of these, I'd've been more interested all along, I think.

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