cover image The River at Night

The River at Night

Kevin Huizenga. Drawn & Quarterly, $34.95 (216p) ISBN 978-1-77046-374-5

Huizenga (Gloriana) sidles up again to his slightly dazed everyman character Glenn Ganges in this unexpectedly poignant, and occasionally magical, graphic novel. In the opening sequence, word balloons cluster over a town, and one rises above the clouds before disintegrating; it’s like a storyboard for an unfinished film, and it speaks to the ever-pressing consciousness of the humanity around Ganges and his own overflowing mind. There’s a short bit about Glenn’s work at a doomed website in the dot-bomb era, which starts in Douglas Coupland–esque irony and ends in sweetly sad longing. The bulk of the book, though, is a loopy night-circus in which Glenn regrets that pot of coffee he made before bed. Page after dreamy page of “Pink Elephants”–like muzzy fantasy flips by. Glenn’s mind is packed with jangled anxieties about to-do lists, meta-self-referencing, half-digested memories of fights with his wife, endlessly looping halls of mirrors, and long reveries on the suburban night that echo Magritte’s Empire of Light series. While Huizenga’s architectural, fine-line style is clearly influenced by Chris Ware, and his slacker-ish framing (anxious creative types searching for meaning) evokes countless other indie comic artists, the vast spaciousness of this surreal night flight is all his own. Glenn’s reveries will pull readers into multiple deserved rereadings. (Sept.)