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Exploring my shelves looking for something a bit more dense to review today, I came across a book that I forgot about. A graphic novel I found at a cool, little, independent book store in Chicago last summer. Like many books that I have yet to read, it was intimidating me…with its non-traditional layout, and its seemingly esoteric sensibility. Oh well, I thought. To hell with it. Let’s dive in!
Title: Poetry Is Useless
Author(s): Anders Nilsen
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly (2015)
Age Rating: 17+
This strange graphic novel gives us a bit of everything. It’s no wonder since it is more of a compilation of thoughts and ideas pieced together from multiple sources. They are all done by Anders Nilsen, but the book does have a disjointed quality. Not that that’s bad. The fragmented approach is perfect for a collection of thoughts on life and thinking. Nihilistic and uplifting at the same time, Poetry Is Useless comes close to hitting most human emotions.
Strange drawings are sandwiched in between the thoughts on life; maybe it’s because most of the yammerings on life come from a silhouetted stick-person bust. Nilsen needed to vary the art to keep the 200+ page book from getting slow. There are also a good amount of secret-portraits filling the pages of this book, breaking up the philosophy even a bit more.
Personally, I feel that the philosophical discussions in this book could have held up on their own, cutting the book by at least 75 pages. I dug the entire thing, but when it comes down to it, the pages that I dog-eared to go back to, were all steeped in the inherent lessons of the book. The detailed drawings added a bit of texture to the overall feel, but for me, cut it down, make it smaller, and it becomes a more powerful book about life.
“The entirety of world history, yes, including Napoleon and the Black Plague, has led up to this moment, in the grocery store, where you’re choosing what kind of cereal to buy.”
“Don’t fuck it up.”
This is one to be experienced. Much of this book felt like the older sibling of Everyone’s an Aliebn. The older sibling that went to Harvard and majored in ancient European culture with a minor in nihilistic yoga. It won’t be for everyone, but if you like to think and get excited about graphic novels that challenge the medium, look no further.
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