Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel is a graphic novel memoir of the author, set in rural Pennsylvania. It focuses on Bechdel’s relationship with her father, Bruce, who was killed by a truck on July 2, 1980 when he was crossing the road. There are different versions of this story, an element of alternate endings, a postmodernist feature. The versions include that Bruce committed suicide by purposely putting himself in front of the truck, and that something startled him and he jumped backwards to be hit; he may have been startled at the sight of a snake, one that she had once seen in the woods when she was a child.
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware is a strange story. The main story revolves around Jimmy meeting his father for the first time, unknown to his mother. There is also the history of the past generations of the Corrigan fathers who pass on abuse to their sons.
Postmodern elements. Elements in JM by Forrest Helvie in SeqArt: history through the four generations of the Corrigans, minimal narrative (panels and structure and fragmentary), capitalism (fast food restaurants and hospitals), simulacrum (Superman comes to the shop and dies by jumping from a building),
Ghost World is a graphic novel about two teenage girls, best friends Enid Coleslaw and Rebecca Doppelmeyer; both are cynical and pseudo-intellectual, and at the same time concerned and clueless about the future. The novel is set in the 1990s in an unnamed American town, filled with shopping malls, urban sprawl, and fast food restaurants. They have just graduated from high school and spend their time wandering, and criticizing the people and popular culture. They are close and entertain the idea that they maybe lesbians. They drift apart when Enid decides to go to college. Both are also attracted to their common quiet friend, Josh.
The Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibson is considered to be one of the top ten graphic novels (Time). The narrative has twelve chapters (in picture panels) interspersed with reports of different kinds. The non-comic narratives are: Holis Mason’s autobiography (Under the Hood), Professor Milton Glass’s report (Dr Manhattan: Super-Powers and the Superpowers), Ch 5 of the Treasure Island Treasury of Comics, prison and psychological reports of Rorschach, Drieberg’s “Blood from the Shoulder of Pallas (Journal of the American Ornithological society), excerpts from the newspaper (New Frontiersman), news articles, fan mail and interview about Sally (Silk Spectre), Viedt’s correspondence on figurines of Ozymandias, and interview with Veidt (“After the Maquerade”).
Reservation Blues (1995) by Sherman Alexie is an important novel. The central characters include Victor Joseph, Junior Polatkin, and Thomas Builds-The-Fire (32 years old), who appear in Alexie’s earlier book The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. Robert Johnson also appears on the Spokane Reservation (created in 1881) in eastern Washington and gives his guitar to Thomas. Wellpinit is the only town on the reservation. The novel follows the adventures of the trio and their band. The other characters include Big Mama, Chess and Checkers (two sisters) and Father Arnold.
Snapshots by Shobha De is a story about four women who have a reunion after a gap of time. The story is told in flashbacks and narrates the events of an afternoon that the frinds spend together. It results in problems and a death (Noor).
Aparna, (husband Rohit, lover Prem), Reema Chandiramani (now Reena Nath, relationship with her brother-in-law), Surekha (housewife, dominating mother-in-law, has a lesbian relationship with her friend and Dolly), Rashmi (eleven-year-old Pips’ mother, middle name nymphomaniac, he is a bastard, father is a married movie director, Pips Sr who left her for a tidier home), and Noor (has an incestuous relationship with her brother, discovers the hidden microphones for the materials for Swati’s Sisters of the Subcontinent, and commits suicide at the end of the reunion).
How to Save Your Own Life by Erica Jong is her second partly biographical book and a really interesting and revolutionary work on identity, gender roles, and meta-narration.
Identity of the author/narrator is distorted by the press, the strangers “who project their fantasies and frustrations on you” and those people “who envy you and imagine they would like to replace you” (8).
Narration strategies: letter writing (from a fan, Celia Laffont), play dialogue between Bennett and her when they are going to the airport to teach the Craft of Writing to Pastoral U, footnote on the F Questionnaire (75) that determines which men are safe to fuck and invented by Gretchen Kendall, list of How to Save Your Own Life / (The Wit & Wisdom of Isadora Wing) (190) and Josh’s letters to her.
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich is a novel that narrates the tensions between three generations and two families of NChippewa (aka Ojibwa or Anishinaabe) living on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota. the novel spans over six decades.
Themes: race (Native American vs Whites), family (3 generations), love, abuse (alcohol and drugs), and love (heterosexual, parents and children, and adoptive families), Native American government policy, and loss of cultural identity and spirituality.
Narrative: third person narrator and first person narrators- Marie Lazarre (Kashpaw), Nector Kashpaw, Lulu Nanapush, Lyman Lamartine, Albertine Johnson, and Lipsha Morrissey.
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolpho A. Anya is an example of a magical realism novel. It can be read as a bildungsroman as it chronicles the growth of Antonio, a young boy whose life takes a turn when a Ultima, a medicine woman, comes to live with his family.
Themes: women, community, the power of dreams, family and ancestors, man vs nature, and religion (organized vs pagan).
Ultima is a curandera, “a woman who knew the herbs and remedies of the ancients, a miracle-worker who could heal the sick” who “could lift the curses laid by brujas” and “exorcise the evil the witches planted in people to make them sick. And because a curandera had this power she was misunderstood and often suspected of practicing witchcraft herself” (4).
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami is a parallel narrative set in two worlds: End of the World and the contemporary world. This is not surprising as Murakami often sets his stories in parallel worlds and alternate universes.
The narrator has arrived at the End of the World to read old dreams. His shadow realizes that “There’s something wrong with this place. People can’t live without their shadows, and shadows can’t live without people. Yet they’re splitting us apart” (63). The Gatekeeper on the End of the World, “Nobody leaves here. … If you endure, everything will be fine. No worry, no suffering. It all disappears. Forget about the shadow. This is the End of the World. This is where the world ends. Nowhere further to go” (109). The food in the Town is different than elsewhere, as the Librarian describes to the narrator, “We sue only a few basic ingredients. What resembles meat is not. What resembles eggs is not. What resembles coffee only resembles coffee. Everything is made in the image of something” (224).