Long Story Short: 100 Classic Books in Three Panels

Lisa Brown. Algonquin, $14.95 (80p) ISBN 978-1-61620-503-4
Brown (The Phantom Twin) condenses classic and contemporary literature into summary comic strips, usually (though not always) three panels long in this feather-light collection. Sometimes she achieves the laugh: Interview with the Vampire is summarized as “It’s all fun and games until you have a kid”; the Walden strip pokes fun at Thoreau for living in Emerson’s backyard; and boiling the entire Bhagavad Gita down to three panels could only end in absurdity. But more often, each strip states the book’s premise or quotes a line without adding special perspective beyond the accomplishment of diminishment. Serious, hard-to-joke-about works like The Autobiography of Malcolm X or Beloved are reduced to pithy platitudes (e.g., “The legacy of slavery is haunting” superimposed on a ghost at a gravestone). There’s nothing wrong with the literal approach to this exercise, per se, but the Cliffs Notes level of commentary can be disappointing, and the better strips leave the rest paler. Brown’s simple but playful and boldly colored art carries off a visual unpretentiousness that suits the erudite-lite material. The result is a cute gift book with just enough going for it, though it could do with more punch. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/09/2020
Release date: 04/01/2020
Genre: Comics
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