GIRLS? YES! GIRLS LIKE SUPERTALK TOO! Here is a review by my good pal Joana, of that book David mazzuchelli did recently. I wasnt the biggest fan of it. Neither was she. OBSERVE AND REPORT:
“Asterios Polyp is David Mazzucchelli’s masterpiece,” bellows Pantheon, his publisher. “A great American graphic novel.”
Mazzucchelli really takes one for the team, dealing with such large issues as: Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? And, WHO DAT? Of course it all has to do with the cosmos… and twins!
Quasi in the grand tradition of Philip Roth, John Updike (and sometimes a ghosting Paul Auster), Mazzucchelli tells the story of a middle aged man who’s got it all—and much, much more to complain about. (See David Foster Wallace, http://www.badgerinternet.com/~bobkat/observer1.html.)
Polyp is an architect, whose life is the succinct projection of his profession’s pathos; how frustrating to have such unrealized dreams!!!! He is a success, a professor and a playa—but everything changes when he meets HANA, a demure, cat-loving, self-doubting Japanese/American creation. His Ying Yang Twin. They are married soon after their identity drawing styles become one—in a harrowing moment of visual telepathy.
The separation and fusion of Polyp and his blushing geisha through color and form is touching, and thus simultaneously quite stupid. It’s an overused trope, like in Pleasantville when the townspeople see in TechniColor® for the first time and the mom has an orgasm in the bathtub.
So then a lot of other stuff happens, a lot of Greek mythology, architectronics, all mostly sentimental… lingering quaffs of the Swiss Army Knives of Fathers Past… even a blister conjures enough self-reflection to burst. And then Polyp’s house is as suddenly on fire as my mentioning it.
Polyp gets into a car and drives—who knows where? America is big and beautiful and the heartland is a great place for reinventing oneself. (Also a great place to write a boring graphic novel and get rave reviews.) The peeps he meets are warm, true blue and fulfill all the characters Mazzucchelli had left to check off on his equilateral PDF. To touch upon mythology, road trips, and townie anarchists one could just scroll through the movies on IFC OnDemand. But I only have basic cable so I guess this will do.
I can’t remember everything that happens, probably only what didn’t. He is on a JOURNEY, a search for the Self, AND his dead, possibly feral brother. I was hoping he would find his twin inside himself—you know what I mean, like in a tumor with a hairball and a bunch of teeth. But Mazzucchelli is so busy following the North Star and flipping backwards and forwards in time to realize that the characters and their nebulous plot, totally suck.
The story is a conceptually transparent yin yang drawn with the equanimity of a fiscal Republican, or Expedia.com’s coffee mug designer, all in all to tremendously tepid effect.
David Mazzucchelli SEEKS to create a GREAT graphic novel, and it is in this eagerness where I isolate, find and confound what is for me its greatest flaw. He poses the big questions and confirms their dauntingness by dipping out. In the last scene Hana and Asterios Polyp are singed to a photoshoppian pulp by an asteroid. Way to go.
Go buy the sports car instead, David.
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzuchelli, available at amazon.
Above is my own copy. It is signed by George Lucas (day glo pen), Nicolas Cage (gold pen) and my mom, Linda (ballpoint pen).