cover image Ephemera: A Memoir

Ephemera: A Memoir

Briana Loewinsohn. Fantagraphics, $24.99 (200p) ISBN 978-1-68396-690-6

Loewinsohn debuts with a sparse but astounding graphic memoir of her coming of age amid her mother’s mental illness. With little text, Briana recalls a childhood spent in the countryside and how her mother would disappear periodically, though she is uncertain if this “happened once or a thousand times.” With only a sullen sibling for company and rebuffed in her efforts to connect with her parent, Briana explores the natural world. As an adult, she turns her care and attention back to the land, hoping to return life to it. As she tends to the earth, she remarks how she has to “wait forever sometimes,” much like she did as a child longing for her mom. Shuttling between past and present, the narrator captures in chilling shorthand the unmoored, uncertain experience of living with a neglectful caregiver. The art deploys earth tones and figures reminiscent of 1930s animation, and Loewinsohn slightly alters expected panel layouts, with picture book–like two-page spreads, and colors in a blue-tinged past against brown, fertile present scenes. It’s delicate, taciturn almost, in her impressive restraint and use of images to grapple with emotions. This powerful yet meditative work heralds the arrival of a promising creator. (Mar.)