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Titre : The Funnies
Éditeur : Riverhead
Date d'édition : 1999
Reliure : Hardcover
Etat du livre : Fine
Etat de la jaquette : Fine
Signé : Signed by Author
Edition : 1st Edition.
First Edition (first printing). The second novel by the author of THE LIGHT OF FALLING STARS, the story of a dysfunctional family which has been immortalized in their father's nationally syndicated comic strip. Fine/Fine. Signed by Lennon on the title page. N° de réf. du libraire 10252
Synopsis : The second novel by the award-winning author of "The Light of Falling Stars" tells the sad and hilarious story of a dysfunctional, semi-estranged family forever immortalized as wisecracking imps in their father's nationally syndicated "Family Circus"-esque comic strip.
Critique: In J. Robert Lennon's fine, wistfully funny second novel, The Funnies, the comics turn out to be very serious business indeed. New Jersey cartoonist Carl Mix was an alcoholic tyrant who used his "Family Funnies" comic strip to transform his real family into a set of puckish, dimwitted cartoons. The only thing worse--he left one of his children out of the strip entirely. "Maybe Dad conceived of it as a way to control us," his slacker son Tim muses, as he receives news of his father's death. "In the unbreachable box of the comic strip, we could be charming and obedient, and we would stay that way, year after year." Carl's will has left nothing to Tim, a talent-free installation artist, except the "Family Funnies" themselves. If he can draw the strip in three months, then all rights and proceeds are his; if he can't, he gets nothing at all. Tim studies his father's craft, and he learns not only about cartooning but also about his father, families, even the small, redemptive miracle of work itself.
There are many fine touches in Lennon's tale: the sad, chain-smoking brother Pierce, who takes pills to get rid of the "extra people"; their town's annual FunnyFest, in which visitors can buy Timburgers and Coca-Cola à la Carl; Brad Wurster, the grim-faced artist who teaches Tim how to draw ("'Family Funnies' sounded, on his tongue, like a fraternal order of concentration camp doctors"). But in the end, it's the funnies themselves that stay with you. As Tim works obsessively on the strip, its stylized visual language and bland gags eventually become an object of genuine, capital-M Mystery--weirdly compelling and symbolically fraught. In its own, stubbornly shallow way, the strip is a document of their family, or at least of their father's self-loathing. "Cartoon characters are deformed freaks we are convinced are like us," Wurster tells his reluctant pupil, but in Lennon's hands, it's the American family that looks more freakish than ever. You'll never look at the Sunday comics in quite the same way again. --Mary Park
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