Friday, December 23, 2011

Manga Friday: The Dotter of Her Father's Eyes

Author: Mary Talbot
Illustrator: Bryan Talbot
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Dark Horse (February 2012)
Rating: 3 out of 5

In short: 
This graphic novel is an intersection of two coming of age stories: one that of Lucia, the daughter of author James Joyce, and the other, Mary (Atherton) Talbot, daughter of Joycean scholar James S. Atherton.

My thoughts:
The good: Bryan Talbot is an experienced artist who can clearly bridge the transitions between the two overlapping stories. The artwork helps to alleviate the somewhat jarring back and forth of the story line, similar in intent to what Gene Luen Yang did in American Born Chinese. Also, in looking at his other graphic novels, Talbot has chosen an appropriate "voice" for his illustrations to enhance his wife's memoir as well as the biography of Lucia.

The awkward: Mary Talbot is an academic writer and this is her first foray into the graphic novel genre, which makes the rhythm of the story difficult to follow. It's not often that I have to continue to reread several pages in a graphic novel. I think some of the story threads would just cut off with an unnatural breath and then the next person's story would continue. Perhaps that was the intent - to leave the reader discombobulated as a way to mirror the tone of heartbreak in the pieces. I think that's a worthy intent, I just may have a harder time "selling" it to my reluctant middle school readers.

The one kernel of hope in the story is that like Adeline Yen Mah Fallen Leaves and Dave Pelzer A Child Called It, Mary Talbot has survived and thrived despite her family life.

Source: ARC supplied by Net Galley(dot)com for an honest review

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