cover image Commute: An Illustrated Memoir of Female Shame

Commute: An Illustrated Memoir of Female Shame

Erin Williams. Abrams ComicArts, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3674-2

Williams (The Big Fat Activity Book for Pregnant People) chronicles the everyday humiliation she feels as a female in this frankly illustrated war cry. The events she recounts are simple: Williams wakes, dresses, takes the train, works, comes home, and cares for her infant daughter. Throughout, she delves into flashbacks of trauma, frustrated fury, experiences with substance abuse and sobriety, self-criticism, and, ultimately, triumphant discovery through friendship and the love of other women and their creativity. In loose-but-evocative, spare lines, often depicting only the barest contours of the body, Williams identifies the persistent harm done to women, through everything from ogling to rape, how that harm is internalized, and how women cope. There is blackout alcoholism for “oblivion junkies,” men to lose one’s self in, and the renewal of self that motherhood can bring. Williams does not shy away from her shame. She is also angry, and she knows she is not alone, and that brilliant anger is where the book becomes truly great. Her confidence—and literal straight gaze at the reader, full of vulnerability and challenge—makes this volume a critique, a lament, and a sigh. As Williams elegantly argues, many women need all three. This sharp and splendidly drawn memoir will strike a strong chord in the current moment. (Oct.)