cover image Look Again

Look Again

Elizabeth A. Trembley. Street Noise, $20.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-951491-18-5

Lambda Literary Award–winning mystery writer Trembley (Ditched, under pen name Josie Gordon) makes her comics debut with an inventive and introspective memoir that examines a traumatic incident she went through in 1996, alongside her frank self-realizations years later. Happening upon a man’s dead body in the woods, strung up in a tree, a stunned Trembley feels a swirl of emotions, which she represents as a hawk (stoicism and rationality), a dragon (fear and paranoia), and a “danger pickle.” She presents her narrative in six variations, each exploring different takes on her actions and her reactions. In the fourth variation, for example, she reveals that she blocked out the memory of several encounters directly after her discovery, which eventually results in her unearthing long-buried issues of self-esteem, internalized homophobia, and shame. Trembley also reveals that this variation is “the only one I never spoke. I wrote it instead.” As she begins to draw her story, she explains, “I became my own first witness.” Though an untrained artist, resulting in rougher hewn pages, she uses the cartooning medium imaginatively. By carefully unfolding the emotional complexities of trauma and memory, Trembley has created a quasi-psychological/therapeutic thriller, one crafted with equal parts mystery, honesty, and empathy. (Sept.)