cover image Impossible People: A Completely Average Recovery Story

Impossible People: A Completely Average Recovery Story

Julia Wertz. Black Dog & Leventhal, $30 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7624-6825-6

A cartoonist wrestles with sobriety in this forthright, wickedly funny graphic memoir by Wertz (Tenements, Towers, & Trash). While pursuing a career she loves and sharing a Brooklyn art studio with her buddies, Wertz attributes her regular solitary drinking to an introverted disposition. She figures she’s doing okay as long as she doesn’t start gulping before five p.m., even if her sporadic attempts to cold-turkey pause only last an afternoon. But after a health scare and a new kitten fail to impose hoped-for changes, Wertz turns to group therapy and a stay at a rehab facility. What follows is an episodic chronicle of small victories and defeats recounted in a breezily self-deprecating tone, as new habits and coping mechanisms collide with hurricanes, sketchy landlords, a rocky romance with a literal car-crash of a breakup, and the death of a friend. Wertz’s punch lines are as perfectly timed and indelicate as ever, and she’s augmented her trademark candor with probing insight. There are glimpses into Wertz’s childhood trauma, and one of the best supporting characters is her brother, Josh, who has his own addiction demons and whose unorthodox encouragement is a highlight. There’s depth to her panels, too, as the relaxed, lumpy character sketches are integrated into the confident architectural detail of cityscape backdrops. Unvarnished yet buoyant, this recovery memoir presents Wertz at her wry best and is sure to recruit new fans to her scrappy, irreverent diaries of the absurd. Agent: Michelle Brower, Trellis Literary Management. (May)