Little Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year

Ramsey Beyer, Author
Ramsey Beyer. Zest (HMH, dist.), $15.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-936976-18-8
Reviewed on: 07/08/2013
Release date: 09/03/2013
Beyer’s debut, a graphic novel–style autobiography, takes a potentially edgy subject—the first year at an art school full of outsiders and punk fans—and treats it in a wholesome way. She combines sheaves of typewritten lists (artifacts from her own first year) with naïf-style panel sequences to trace her transition from smalltown Michigan “little fish” to settled-in student in Baltimore. She writes surprisingly little about art and almost nothing about her own work. Instead, journal entries describe her feelings about where she comes from (“I have really supportive parents who encouraged me to go to art school”) and her social encounters: “Being here is just weird sometimes. Everything is uncertain. I don’t know how I feel. I don’t know how people feel about me.” As freshman year unfolds, Ramsey realizes a boy likes her, and she allows herself to like him back: “The main source of my happiness right now? Daniel and his cute face and how dorky he is.” Beyer’s b&w cartooning has a homey indie comics vibe, but the memoir’s essentially placid nature and run-of-the-mill observations make for a muted account. Ages 12–up. (Sept.) ■