cover image Portrait of a Body

Portrait of a Body

Julie Delporte, trans. from the French by Helge Dascher and Karen Houle. Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95 trade paper (268p) ISBN 978-1-77046-680-7

Delporte (This Woman’s Work) reckons with sexuality, identity, and belonging in this searching and intimate graphic memoir. Detailing the realization of her own lesbian identity at age 35 in soft-pencil cursive and full-page drawings, Delporte interrogates her past relationships (“The whole game is rigged”), grapples with the enduring toll of sexual traumas, and bemoans “compulsory heterosexuality” (per Adrienne Rich). Throughout, she confronts nagging worries over queer authenticity (“I was afraid of having to perform my new sexuality to be accepted”). As she lays bare her insecurities and anxieties in concise ruminations, she cites the many artists and theorists (including Chantal Akerman, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Rich) who’ve helped her make sense of the world. Probing lines of text snake between drawings of vulvar flowers, agate slices, lichen, film stills, and lovers in repose. There’s an intuitive cast to the interplay of calm, bright images and often-restless confessions, while the discreet “pencil swatch” color tests scribbled at the margins of many pages underscore the artist’s enduring interest in process—and her recognition that each person remains an ongoing work in progress. “Time hasn’t healed all my wounds,” Delporte writes, “and yet here I am, still very much alive.” The result is a poignant, sometimes tortured, but ultimately hopeful study. (Jan.)