cover image Roughneck


Jeff Lemire. Gallery 13, $29.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-5011-6099-8

Lemire (Essex County) dives into the murkiest depths of addiction, abuse, and family trauma in this heartbreaking volume. Derek Ouellette’s glory days in the NHL are far behind—now, he’s known mostly for alcoholism, public urination, and bar fights. When his younger sister, Beth, arrives in town, addicted to Oxycontin and fleeing an abusive boyfriend, he finds he can no longer hide at the bottom of a bottle. The siblings take to the wilderness, in search of sobriety, solitude, and, possibly, a second chance. This is well-worn territory, even within Lemire’s oeuvre, but powerful nonetheless. Derek and Beth are trapped within the vicious cycle of abuse and addiction that plague so many like them—poor, First Nations, rural—but Lemire handles their struggles with grace and uncommon feeling. Every craggy furrow in Derek’s face, every wayward hair escaping Beth’s braids are imbued with thoughtfulness. It is a pleasure to watch Lemire explore the emotional landscape of lives many prefer to forget—and to demonstrate anew how valuable they are. (Apr.)