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Jar Of Fools
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Jar Of Fools (Jar of Fools #1)

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  967 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Ernie is an alcoholic stage magician haunted by lost love and his brother’s suicide, and he’s hooked up with his senile mentor in one last effort to sort his life out. But Ernie needs to keep Flosso the Magnificent with him in the present and by his side to guide Ernie through these difficult days. These two magicians have run out of escape tricks but they can’t stop runni
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Published (first published 1994)
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Gloriavirtutisumbra
Let me tell you a story about when I read this. I was in my last year of undergraduate college, and a book club of comic book reading graduate students adopted me into their circle. Once a month we would meet at a local pizza place and discuss whatever series we decided to focus on next. This was right before the term 'graphic novel' had really made its stand in the literary world, and the idea that we were gathering to seriously discuss comics seemed so insane at the time. Our 'chair' chose our ...more
Dan
I wanted to like this graphic novel, really, I did. I very much enjoyed the art work and the premise seemed at least somewhat engaging; the intertwining stories of average people dealing with the very real existentialist conundrums that face all of us no matter what walks of life we take. But alas, the junction of these existentialist struggles of, the alcoholic ex-magician who just can't seem to do anything right in life while bemoaning the absurd and unexpected death of his older brother years ...more
Evan
In this jaded mass media age it's hard to be a viable magician with a modest repertoire of card tricks and pigeons pulled from top hats when David Copperfield or David Blaine can make the Eiffel Tower disappear. Likewise, it's hard to make ends meet as an old-fashioned con-man in an era of anonymous electronic hacking, where the perpetrator need not lay a hand at all on the cash or practice the art of dazzling a real-person victim with diversion.

That's the sad plight of the down-and-out adult ma
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Bob Redmond
Onetime Seattleite Lutes first novel, the "picture story" JAR OF FOOLS tells the tale of Eddie, a magician recovering from a broken heart and a lost brother. Others in the cast of characters are: a homeless street hustler and his 9 year-old daughter, Eddie's girlfriend Esther, and his mentor Al Flosso.

The good: we must remember that Lutes was, if not a pioneer, at least on the vanguard of graphic novels as we know them now. His art is also very good, and his story is solid with interesting slice
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Amanda
A rain-soaked tale of an alcoholic, nearly homeless, brother-haunted, lovelorn magician; his mentor, a fugitive from the retirement home; a confidence man and his young daughter; and the troubled source of the magician's lovelorn-ness; and, of course, the ways they all come together and pull each other back up. Both beautifully drawn and skillfully constructed, as the best graphic novel should be.

My biggest problem with it was that the ending is slightly corny, but that didn't detract too much f
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Ollie
Honestly, I don't know what all the hoopla is with Jason Lutes' Berlin, because Jar of Fools is where it's at. I don't know why I like it more. In all fairness, the shit has just hit the fan with Berlin and things are about to be wrapped up in a third book, so we haven't seen the entire story. Yet, there was this excitement I felt for Jar of Fools right at the beginning that was, honestly, lacking in Berlin.

Jar of Fools tells the story of Ernie, a magician who is out of work, alone, and mournin
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Emily
Oh man, I've seen/read so many bummer stories about failed magicians lately. I guess the metaphors of illusions in real life, stage personas/private personas are too much for some writers to pass up.

And, I'll be honest, the metaphors got a little heavy-handed in this one. Still, Lutes' premise and setting were original: five desperate people are at the ends of their ropes for various reasons. Poverty, depression, poor health, sexism all weigh down on his characters in a dystopian, gritty urban s
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Peacegal
This unusual graphic novel deals with elements of depression, anxiety, loss, heartache, mental illness, suicide, nightmares, failure, and disappointment.

Naturally, I loved it.
Jien
The forward gave me high hopes for this, but I found it overrated. The story just wasn't particularly interesting.
Nickolas
I bought this book on a pub crawl I did up in Brisbane at my favourite used book store ‘Archive Books’ at 40 Charlotte Street (stop by if you’re ever in the neighbourhood). I’ve never heard of Jason Lutes but he’s a featured artist on the famous indie ‘Drawn & Quarterly’ site so I figured it was definitely worth my attention.

Sherman Alexie who is probably best known for writing the 1998 screenplay for Smoke Signals wrote the introduction to my edition of the book and raves about how good it
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Janice
i first read jar of fools serialized in a paper i volunteered for in providence, rhode island. one of my co-volunteers claimed to be friends with mr. lutes, and with ben katchor, and with other artists i admire. he may very well have been, because i don't know many other papers this was printed in, and the nice paper (r.i.p.) was quite small, to say the least. i crossed my fingers, waiting for the next installment to arrive on time and in good condition. it always did, except for scheduled vacat ...more
Alex Scales
This book served as my introduction to Jason Lutes, who is probably better known for his much longer comic title, Berlin. Jar of Fools comes from the early 90's, right after Lutes graduated college, but it doesn't really feel dated at all. In fact, it's interesting to note that Jar of Fools was originally serialized in strip form. Honestly, I would have never guessed it as this book reads like a precursor to the literary graphic novel craze of the 00's.

Probably the most interesting achievement
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Dani Peloquin
Jar of Fools by Jason Lutes tells the story of a magician and his mentor. Ernest, a magician in his 20s or 30s is out of a job and down on his luck when his old mentor, Al, arrives on his doorstep. Al has run away from a retirement home and doesn't have the sharpest mind anymore. When the two men get in a scuffle with some other men, a stranger named Nathan throws Ernest and Al into Nathan's car. With Nathan's daughter, Claire, the foursome decide to live out of Nathan's car. Parallel to this st ...more
Panoramaisland
Oh, the faces! Jason Lutes can really draw faces, and through them he manages to draw out people who feel very real and characterful. He got his BFA in illustration at RISD, and it shows; unlike many art-oriented comics artists, however, he manages to work his visuals with such economy that every line and shadow rings with meaning. I seem to recall a reviewer writing that he is a sort of visual Hemingway in that respect, and the comparison feels true to me; although he was a superior story-build ...more
Glen Engel-Cox
The artistic influences of Jason Lutes' "picture novel," Jar of Fools, are fairly easy to spot. The drawing style is European, with the clean lines of Herge of Tintin fame, while the storyline is contemporary Americana of such short story writers as Raymond Carver. But Lutes is good enough, and his story strong enough, that it transcends being merely a reflection of his study, and the combination of the disparete pair make this graphic novel something unusual among the others on the shelf.

The st
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Brendan
Lutes follows five people in this graphic novel (or “novel in pictures” as the cover calls it). Our main character is an alcoholic out-of-work magician whose brother died in a magic accident (or killed himself) sometime in the recent past. He’s also trying to take care of his mentor, a magician sliding into senility who seems a lot like Carl from Up. Enter the con man and his daughter, living out of a car, learning the ways of the grift. Add a dash of pomo grown-up comic angst and stir. Voila.

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Phillip
This graphic novel provides a blend of urban tales about mental illness.

It shows stories about people who are faithful to the people they love who are mentally ill. We see the magician's assistant whose career is held back because he sticks with his ailing mentor. There is the story of the young woman, just getting by, waiting and remembering the wonderful days before her love became schizophrenic and began living in the streets. We see a father and daughter con act turned to robbery. They are
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Jo Bennie
The Amazing Ernesto, prestidigiator, is on his uppers, haunted by the death of his escapologist brother who drowned in a failed stunt which took him to the bottom of the river, and by the loss of his girlfriend Esther. His previous mentor Al, once Flosso the Magnificent, turns up having escaped yet again from his nursing home. One trying to forget the past that haunts him, the other with genuine memory loss, go on the run with con artist Lender and his daughter Claire, running from child service ...more
Michele
Earlier this summer I read Jason Lutes' Berlin: City of Stone. I enjoyed his story-telling and graphics so much that I read a couple more including this one. Jar of Fools follows Ernie, a failed alcoholic magician and Al Flosso, his elderly mentor, as they each struggle with their lives past and present. It is not a complicated story and it only spans a brief moment in time, but in that limited space Lutes manages to breathe life into a cast of characters. What makes this simple story so engagin ...more
Martin
Some have said this book did not end well, that it was open-ended, but let me tell you this. This book was a balm for my soul when it was in a funk. It would not have been thus if it had a happy, conciliatory ending, because, realistically, pain and grief often do not go away. You merely find ways to move on, either by evading or facing them. Hollywood has been the creator and destroyer of worlds, creating false hopes and dreams of happy-ever-afters and setting them up for heartbreak. This book ...more
Kim
Ernie Weiss has some skill as a magician, but he can't seem to get it together since the end of his romance and the death of his brother. This GN was written one page at time as a comic, and it is breathtakingly simple and beautiful. I will be re-reading this one a long time.
Veronica
This was a bit of a disappointment. The illustrations are sharp and the characters were vivid, but the story meandered on a sort of lazy, irrelevant course and ended in an unsatisfying dead end.

I love the idea of illusions, magic etc as themes, but to my mind these were insufficiently explored. A key plot point regarding the disappearance of the protagonist's brother remained unsolved. I admire Jason Lutes' skill and his artwork, but this felt more like part one of a two-act graphic novel. Shame
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Constance
Relatively simple, but really well-done.
Bryce Holt
Beautifully drawn, but probably the most depressing book you will ever read (unless you read Cormac McCarthy's "The Road"). I know there are some reader-types who love to watch a guy with potential become homeless and live beneath a bridge and feel all sad-like. That's not my fiction. This book really could have used a battle between opposing scallywags or a robot bear hellbent on destroying a city. As it is, "Jar of Fools" has neither of those nor any other devices that should keep you reading ...more
David Schaafsma
I liked this book, as one other reviewer says, influenced by Herge's Tintin, Will Eisner, and others exploring under- and working-class folks. Sentimental, as with some of these influences. His later works, Berlin and Houdini, show growth, but this one shows promise and has sweetness in it. The Houdini connection? Magicians (and the manipulation of fiction) play a role in this book, and mentoring..... reminds me of Michael Chabon's great work on related topics... This is good, with memorable cha ...more
Ursula
Wow, Jason Lutes is talented! His graphic skills are the best I've seen in a long time. You will never confuse the appearance of one character for another because he draws every one with so much detail and nuance. The story he tells is interesting, unique and for the most part, unsentimental. It was an enjoyable, lazy weekend read.

On a side note, the binding of this book was surprisingly poor. I bought it 14 months ago and the interior is already detached from the spine. Did this happen to anyo
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Vasha7
Graphic novel. On rereading it, I find that I admire it a lot. The accumulation of heartbreak is not melodramatic, just adds up to melancholy. I thought Lutes' crisp, meticulous graphic style might be too concrete for such a ruminative story, but in fact, he fluidly blends in thoughts and dreams, and seamlessly switches perspectives. Places are at once very real, and part of states of mind. And the graphics work in the service of the interactions between characters, too.
Sarah
I enjoyed this book, but I feel I may have missed some things, so I'd like to read it again. I enjoyed the fact that it is a graphic novel and much of the story is through the illustrations, so I'd like to "read" the illustrations again to gain a better understanding of the overall story. The tone I think i picked up on--sad, yet hopeful, kind of desperate and lonely, yet aching for something more.
J.
The first half of this novel is masterful. The second sort of makes little sense, and breaks down into a mishmosh of overly sentimental vignettes. The artwork, though is always exquisite, a non-manga American b&w comic with the same level if background detail that we normally only see in manga. I especially like Lutes continuous referral to telephone lines as metaphor of connection.
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