Ordinary Victories

Manu Larcenet, Author, Patrice Larcenet, Illustrator . NBM/ComicsLit $15.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-56163-423-1

This graphic novel won top honors at France's Cannes-for-comics, Angoulême, and it's easy to see why. French cartoonist Larcenet has created a leisurely story about Marc, a 20-something photographer, who is embroiled in crisis in both his life and art. His artwork is not satisfying him; his elderly parents and working-class childhood are weighing on him; and his crippling panic attacks have become more frequent. On the other hand, he falls in love and hatches a new photography project aimed at exploring and redeeming his shipyard roots and ailing father. But this is not just another coming-of-age tale. Through his characters, Larcenet presents a vision of French politics, history and society, weaving all of these strands together to create a multilayered book. The dialogue is insightful and sometimes painfully realistic; the artwork firmly roots readers in the French landscape and milieu while maintaining a cartoonish distance with the character designs and expressions. Marc is rarely pleasant and not terribly likable, but his conflicting feelings about love and family, politics and class, and art and money are universally recognizable; the reader respects him even without liking him. The complex characterization and breadth of scope make this a compelling, insightful story that rewards careful attention. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/16/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
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