Friday, October 22, 2010

FRENCH MILK by Lucy Knisley

As she stands on the brink of college graduation, cartoonist Lucy Knisley and her mother decide to rent an apartment in Paris for six weeks.  There, she indulges her inner foodie, immerses herself in the arts and history of Paris, and forms a deep addiction to creamy French milk.

A true account, written and drawn during her time in Paris, Lucy's travel journal draws you into her world.  Her cute drawing style invites the reader to indulge in the escape and repose of a Parisian vacation through her dreamlike eyes.  She eschews traditional comics panel layouts, instead letting her words and art float around on each page, showing that the story she's telling is not a sequence of events, but a collection of impressions.

Instead of trying to forge a sweeping narrative of personal growth, she gives an honest view of her experiences from glimpses of both memorable and quotidian moments.  And inevitably, many of these turn out to be one in the same.  I was struck, when she dropped a reference to the execution of Saddam Hussein, how much the real world was thrown into sharp relief, even in her cartoony style, by intruding on her otherwise pleasant repose abroad-- an intrusion she resents, wanting to hide as much from the news of the outside world as she does from thoughts of her future. Though she starts and ends her trip unsure about her future, she emerges from her refuge on the Left Bank with a renewed serenity, prepared to face it, no matter what it is.  And of course, a life-long love of French milk.

Browse an excerpt of French Milk here.


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