cover image A Fade of Light

A Fade of Light

Nate Fakes. West Margin, $19.99 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-51313-499-4

A young cartoonist’s career ascent coincides with his stepfather’s struggle with dementia in this moving graphic memoir by syndicated cartoonist Fakes (Break of Day). In the 1990s, high schooler Nate gets his first impression of his mom’s then-boyfriend Ron: a talkative Jim Carrey type, perpetually dialed up to eleven. Driving around Toledo with stereo blasting, drumming on the steering wheel, and waving at complete strangers, Ron and his puppy-dog enthusiasm embarrass the teen, but “life was less dull with Ron around.” A business seminar devotee, Ron bubbles over with outlandish schemes, and his passion pays off in a successful landscaping company. He’s equally zealous about Fakes’s artistic pursuits. But, during Fakes’s late 20s, strange slips appear in the still-young Ron’s memory, the familiar gregarious antics skidding into confused episodes that alarm and alienate neighbors and disrupt work. By the time a doctor diagnoses a rare form of dementia, Fakes fears he’s one of the last people sticking by his stepdad, now a shell of his former self. Rendered in homey illustrations seemingly pulled from the funny pages, Ron’s irremediable decline feels all the more disarming. It’s a heartbreaking but loving portrait, swelling with pathos, that will appeal to family memoir readers who might post cut-out strips of For Better or for Worse on the fridge. Agent: Matt Belford, Tobias Literary Agency (Oct.)