Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Jokes and the Unconscious: A Graphic Novel” as Want to Read:
Jokes and the Unconscious: A Graphic Novel
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Jokes and the Unconscious: A Graphic Novel

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  159 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Heard the one about the dying father? In this savagely brilliant graphic novel by slam poet Daphne Gottlieb (Final Girl) and Hothead Paisan creator Diane DiMassa, a 19-year-old woman named Sasha loses her father to cancer and takes a job in the hospital where he had worked as a doctor. Moving from room to room with her clipboard of forms, Sasha encounters the insane, the s ...more
Paperback, 113 pages
Published June 29th 2006 by Cleis Press
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Jokes and the Unconscious, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Jokes and the Unconscious

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Morgan Dhu
Jan 03, 2016 Morgan Dhu rated it really liked it
Jokes and the Unconscious, a collaborative graphic novel written by performance poet Daphne Gottlieb and graphic artist Diane DiMassa (of Hothead Paisan fame) is a brilliant, sometimes savage, sometimes heartbreaking story about coming to terms with death, sexuality, and living in a horribly imperfect world filled with pain, cruelty, callousness, lack of understanding and empathy, ironic co-incidence, and sometimes love and tenderness and just enough transcendence to make it possible to keep on ...more
Sep 07, 2008 kate rated it liked it
i read this in one sitting when i woke up yesterday, which was maybe a bad idea. i loved the idea of a collaboration between these two authors, but the book came together like trying to take a picture of a wide landscape by taking several exposures & lining them up -- the edges don't match. i think it might be worth observing that so many people describe gottlieb as a "darker" version of michelle tea (for her poetry) or alison bechdel (for the lesbian/dead father graphic novel thing). i like ...more
Serene Vannoy
Apr 24, 2011 Serene Vannoy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in a bathroom in Tokyo, during a 100-degree heatwave, while trying to stay awake long enough to finish my shift doing personal-care work. I've never been closer to stoned in my life, and I don't do drugs. Need I even say I highly recommend it?
Mr Osowski
Feb 15, 2017 Mr Osowski rated it liked it
I liked it. There were lots of cool concepts in there and lots of things to keep you thinking. I will think about this from time to time, I'm sure. That being said, it read a lot like it was written by a slam poet. There was a certain lack of an overarching plot arc which, while totally cool in poetry, is a little off putting in a novel (even a graphic novel). I didn't feel like I knew how it all came together, and there weren't the moments of clarity that some writers give you when they make th ...more
Apr 26, 2013 Rob rated it really liked it
(8/10) I just finished rereading this, and I liked it even more the second time around. Jokes and the Unconscious is a collaboration between two unique voices that nevertheless has a strong identity and artistic sense of its own. The story mixes black humour and the everyday horror of death and disease into a narrative about death, family, and love. Humour here is both a form of relief and a bitter mark of hopelessness. The style is a jumble of digressions and temporalities, but like the works o ...more
Jan 31, 2009 Jess rated it liked it
While i was interested in the collaboration between these two authors, i found that at most points the prose & the drawings didn't rely on each other. The drawings served mostly as illustrations when i would have liked to see a firmer meld.

I think this book is a good piece of social history: it frames a modern aesthetic regarding how the current artistic generation relates to beauty and pain, the detached romance of self-harm & the meaningfulness of meaningless acts.

I was glad to see Di
Daphne Gottlieb is a pretty awesome writer-poet and Hothead Paisan creator Diane DiMassa is a pretty awesome artist-cartoonist, so the pairing of the two just feels right. I was impressed with Gottlieb’s book of poems Final Girl, and her voice in this meditation/memoir on grief is powerful and assured from start to finish. As far as DiMassa’s drawings are concerned, it is very difficult as a cartoonist to take on already-written prose – as several readers pointed out below there are sections her ...more
Salome Wilde
Dec 26, 2012 Salome Wilde rated it really liked it
I read this for DiMassa's art, being a big fan of Hothead Paisan. Much of the art is darkly imaginative, simple and moody. Generally, it suits the text well. I hadn't read Gottlieb before, and this was an engaging intro to her content and style. Lie and death and love and desire tangle and weave, and I enjoyed the troubling voyage through a short time in the young woman's life.

Weaknesses to me were limited to a self- indulgence often found in confessional graphic novels. Less pith and power tha
May 16, 2015 Enya rated it it was ok
Shelves: queer
2.5 stars - Not bad but not good.

The jokes weren't funny and I'm not sure if they were meant to be, because I don't really understand the appeal of black humour, I don't get black humour. In art-style this reminded me a little of Blue is the Warmest Color and the main character Sasha is bisexual (or maybe pansexual), so it included a similar theme.
All in all I wouldn't necessarily recommend this graphic novel. I liked the idea of it but it didn't fulfill its potential. Lemony Snicket was wrong
Apr 08, 2014 David rated it did not like it
A morbidly dark, dark, dark (did I mention dark) graphic novel centered around a young woman's search for meaning in her father's death as well as her sexuality. 19 year old Sasha spends her summer working as a clerk at the same hospital her father worked as a doctor. Along the way she encounters a motley cast both in the hospital and in her life. The vignettes get a few stars for creativity; however, the tale is so fragmented and disconnected as to leave the reader with a big MEH at the END. I' ...more
Sep 30, 2008 Joe rated it liked it
I almost didn't pick up this book, because the art was so awful, but upon reading Lemony Snicket's review, I decided to give it a shot.

The prose is good, really good. This is one of the few modern day character studies that doesn't make me want to puke my guts into my boots.

But let's face it, the drawing is horrible. I understand that some artists purposefully draw comics that look like a baboon shit on them, and that's their right, but at the end of the day, it still looks like a baboon shit o
Jul 25, 2008 Andre rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like dark humor, people who like fight club
Recommended to Andre by: Caitlynn
This book isn't your typical graphic novel. It takes the mundane: a college aged girl loosing her father, and twists it into the surreal.

The story itself reads largely like a written novel with the art adding layers more than detail.

Paced by uneasy jokes, this graphic novel pushes its tale forward with all the pithy desperation of fight club complimented by haunting artwork.

If you're looking for Allison Bechdel, you won't find it here, but if you're up for a somewhat nihilistic walk through th
Allison Floyd
Nov 10, 2011 Allison Floyd rated it liked it
I generally find that anything this author writes is worth picking up, and I'd been curious about this one for a while. So, when I found it at the library, I checked it out. This was a good book: a pithy and often poignant mediation on grief and the many ways that bodies and hearts betray us. The documentation of the process of mourning a person you have alternately loved and feared rang especially true. The artwork acts as an integral component to the story; you couldn't have one without the ot ...more
Printable Tire
Lately I haven't felt like reading anything substantial for the first time in what seems like in a while. But I've been reading bits and pieces of this, and I finally finished it last night (coincidentally today I went to a wake). It was a little disjointed, but altogether I found it to be really good. The jokes were TERRIBLE, though.
May 15, 2009 Aneesa rated it liked it
Recommended to Aneesa by: Andrea
I liked the story, and I thought some of the drawings added to it, but it mostly feels like an illustrated book instead of a comic (the writing is both dialog and description, and was probably written first). I also think I would have been more inclined to read it in the first place if I had known it's about a girl working in the payment department of a hospital.
Jul 23, 2012 Scott rated it really liked it
Wonderful book. It's a first person account of a woman who is experiencing the death of her father. She works as a biller in the hospital as well. She's also bisexual. And likes morbid jokes. A nice well-rounded tour of emotions and psyche, with mortality, sickness, jokes, random flings and serious relationships. The art is comicky and morbid and makes it a very interesting read.
Jun 01, 2007 jillbertini rated it liked it
Excellent graphic novel. Hard to encapsulate what it is about; a combo of a narrative punctuated with various vignettes. Diane diMassa is a wonderful artist, and Daphne Gottlieb's storytelling hits right in the solar plexus.
Feb 18, 2010 yengyeng rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphicnovel
This could be so much better if the humour is a tad more droll and the jokes are cleverer. Sobering reminder that dealing with the death of a parent is inevitable. Diane DiMassa's drawings are distinctive and always fun to look at.
Nov 14, 2007 Kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
I really love Daphne Gottlieb's poetry, so of course I snapped this up when I saw it on the sale shelf. Although most of the book is prose, she keeps that same gritty, hard hitting style I like so much. Diane DiMassa's illustrations are the perfect partner.
Ania Ostrowska
Jan 03, 2013 Ania Ostrowska rated it really liked it
Surreal visual references and spooky lines suit the morbid content perfectly well. Dealing with hard core matters in an original, a bit perverted way. A tough cookie but definitely worth it, if you have strong teeth that is.
Nov 13, 2007 Tatiana rated it really liked it
unfortunately it gets constantly compared to 'fun home', because of the father-death lesbian thing, but it stands on its own. hothead paisan is a little too much for some people, but this is pensive, imaginative, serious, and wonderful.
Nov 17, 2012 Leah rated it really liked it
I read this book in one sitting. Holy smokes, was it powerful.
Jun 22, 2007 HeavyReader rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Hothead Paisan
Another book with the potential to disturb and trigger.

I really appreciate Diane DiMassa's art, and the story here is engaging too.
Mar 28, 2007 kot rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
One of the most deeply resonating books I've read in a long time.
May 10, 2012 Liza marked it as unfinished
I was really impressed by/interested in this, but also found it kind of hard to take and now it's overdue at the library and I have to return it. Maybe will revisit someday!
Aug 06, 2008 anjelaj rated it really liked it
I love Diane DiMassa. I read a lot of this while I was waiting at the doctor's office. That was a little surreal.
Kevin Ho
May 05, 2009 Kevin Ho rated it did not like it
Didn't do much for me personally, though others might find the stories more interesting than I did.
Mar 14, 2010 Jeweleye rated it it was ok
A young woman's graphic memoir of the year her father died.
Nov 18, 2007 Marissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: comix
It's so great that Diane DiMassa is drawing comics again, especially when her funny, awesome drawings are paired with such well-woven prose. Very, very good.
Nov 18, 2008 Poppy rated it really liked it
Thanks Nancy. I liked this book.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Complete Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist
  • Life's a Bitch: The Complete Bitchy Bitch Stories
  • Invasion of the Dykes to Watch Out For (DtWOF, #11)
  • Make Me a Woman
  • Invincible Summer: An Anthology
  • Forgetting the Alamo, Or, Blood Memory
  • A Child's Life: Other Stories
  • Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man
  • I Love Led Zeppelin
  • How Loathsome
  • Monsters
  • How To Go To Hell
  • Stuck Rubber Baby
  • Potential
  • Bad Habits: A Love Story
  • The Salon
Daphne Gottlieb is a San Francisco-based Performance Poet.

Gottlieb has served as the poetry editor of the online queer literary magazine Lodestar Quarterly and was a co-organizer of ForWord Girls, a first spoken word festival for anyone who is, has been or will be a girl, which was held in September 2002.

She has taught at New College of California, and has also performed and taught creative writin
More about Daphne Gottlieb...

Share This Book