Take the Long Way Home

Jon Claytor. Conundrum, $25 (454p) ISBN 978-1-77262-070-2

Oil painter turned cartoonist Claytor poignantly chronicles a road trip across Canada to an artist’s residency in British Columbia. A recovering alcoholic, Claytor finds salvation in those he visits along the way, as he recounts the damage of his addiction in their shared histories. Whether discovering from his mom in Moncton, New Brunswick, that he has a secret brother, or catching joy from the “most rare animals of all, a happy family” in Manitoba, Claytor’s trek brings out his overwhelming feelings of gratitude, along with tough memories. The emotive sketchy linework of his drawings imbue the pages with the authenticity of lived experience. This rings true even as the work forays into imagined adventures, such as Claytor heading off to a bowling alley with the late Glenn Gould or taking advice from anthropomorphized wildlife. While he worries about relapsing, his adopted dog, who has only known him sober, comforts: “Just be the Jon that I have always known and you will be fine.” This deeply personal story of recovery pays tribute to the community of support found taking the long way home. (Apr.)