The Most Important Thing & Other Stories

Graham Chaffee, Author Fantagraphics Books $7.95 (64p) ISBN 978-1-56097-193-1
Chaffee's haunting and original stories link ordinary and disparate individuals across space and time, delineating the emotional parameters of their lives. Yet these oddly constructed stories remain delightfully elusive, even as they provide a glimpse into the power of memory, longing and the ordinary isolation of one human being from another. Most impressive are the shifts in narrative focus; one fictional scenario transforms itself wholly into another, all the while maintaining the mixture of colloquial description, dialogue and visual meaning that carries the stories forward. In the elegiac ``Veterans Day,'' Chaffee uses mostly visual narration and bits of dialogue to support the shifts between an old soldier's present and his memories (or visions) of combat and death. In the wonderfully mystical/philosophic folktale ``The Most Important Thing,'' a prison camp fistfight shifts to an anthropomorphic discussion between a dog (Ivan), a cat (Gustav) and a crow (Jack). ``Faith is the measure of man,'' says Ivan to general ridicule (``If men were dogs,'' replies Gustav), and the trio departs to deliver silent messages of clarity, grief and hope to three unsuspecting humans. Distinguished by a bold line, Chaffee's b & w drawings are evocative, simple and stylishly naturalistic. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/31/1995
Release date: 08/01/1995
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