cover image My Pancreas Broke but My Life Got Better

My Pancreas Broke but My Life Got Better

Nagata Kabi, trans. from the Japanese by Jocelyne Allen. Seven Seas, $14.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 979-8-88843-265-5

Harvey Award winner Kabi (My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness) continues her series of painfully frank (and funny) autobiographical manga with an account of being forced to confront her alcohol abuse. The book opens with 34-year-old Kabi hospitalized with pancreatitis, the result of drinking “about a liter of shochu every day,” then rewinds to recount her efforts to run away from the issue, including literally running away from the hospital. l. Kabi is always better at analyzing her problems than she is at solving them, and she’s clear-eyed and witty when exploring how she drinks to control her anxiety, ADHD, and fears about adult life. She admits that the crisis provides her with material, imagining her hospitalization as “a gift from the god of stories.” Her frantic linework, with panels dissolving into clouds of scribbled shadows and speed lines from which her cartoon avatar stares with wild eyes, is the perfect visual expression of neurosis, but also irresistibly hilarious. “For better or worse, some things never change,” she writes, admitting to continuing some indulgent habits (like shopping sprees) after she gave up drinking. There are no tidy resolutions in Kabi’s telling, and she’s candid about the ups and downs of living as a recovering alcoholic. Readers will laugh at Kabi’s ruthless honesty even as they find reassurance that there’s hope in the messiest of lives. (Nov.)