cover image I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf

I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf

Grant Snider. Abrams ComicArts, $16.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3711-4

This playful, self-aware collection of strips and gags on the joys and frustrations of reading and writing is equal parts lighthearted and sincere. Snider is “writing the great American novel,” and one gets the sense that creating these comics was an escape during slumps. He riffs on literary genres (“Choose Your Own Memoir” displays a MadLibs mash-up of tropes) and the writing process (“The Writer’s Block” offers a Richard Scarry–esque streetscape whose “Publishing House” bears a “No Soliciting” sign). Snider pays homage to bibliophilia via a Haruki Murakami bingo game and a breakdown of bookshelf types that includes “stylish but shallow” and “stuck in high school.” Snider’s relationship to literature runs deep and is fraught with recognizable “Reader’s Blocks,” such as “low curiosity” or “overwhelmed by infinite possibility.” The panels range from gently clever to surprisingly profound to laugh-out-loud. And for aspiring writers in doubt (“What should I write about? Gods of Literature, send me a ray of hope”), Snider suggests looking to the “Three Rays”(Carver, Chandler, Bradbury): “A man. In a truck. By a river,” says Carver. “Murder at a tattoo parlor,” says Chandler. “A computer that can cry,” says Bradbury. All to say, Snider’s got a bit here for every avid reader. [em](Apr.) [/em]