A charming comic memoir from a young cook and cartoonist. Creator Lucy Knisley walks us through her life so far, taking us from an early girlhood in N...moreA charming comic memoir from a young cook and cartoonist. Creator Lucy Knisley walks us through her life so far, taking us from an early girlhood in New York City to growing up in the country, where her mother moved to start a garden and a catering business. Along with her early life, Knisley covers the meals that have meant the most to her, from chocolate-chip cookies to fresh-from-the-soil mushrooms.
It's an enjoyable read. Her voice and her art are fresh and appealing. The writing has a welcome enthusiasm as well as some nice side gags when it comes to the illustrated recipes. The art is expressive and clean, with a beautiful use of color.
At the same time, the story feels a little slight. Knisley is still very young when we reach the endpoint of this graphic memoir, and it didn't seem like there was enough experience here to add up to a fully realized narrative. Indeed, the story is as much about her parents as herself, and she's very careful to cast them in a positive light, even when their judgment may be questionable. (Her father's suggested womanizing, for instance, or her mother's perhaps overcasual care when traveling with teens in foreign countries.)
At the same time, despite her protests about being a broke student, Knisley seems a little blind to her own privilege. Not every wannabe foodie or artist gets trips to Mexico and Japan in under their belts before they're fifteen. Nor do they have an expert chef in their household, an extended culinary support network or lifelong access to gourmet treats.
Still, Knisley is very open, appealing and likable. I'd enjoy seeing other work by her when she's not the primary focus. Some sketches here of the kitchen at Alinea offer a start at a fascinating alternative.(less)
A breezy visual look of European history from 1815 to after World War II, as defined by the nation's borders. The book's format has the left-page text...moreA breezy visual look of European history from 1815 to after World War II, as defined by the nation's borders. The book's format has the left-page text describes the right-page map, whether that's battle maneuvers, ceded territories or growing cities. McEvedy does a good job distilling the complex history down to a few paragraphs, and he's not afraid to poke fun at the statesmen of the era either. Sometimes his commentary can be a little too dismissive, but this is a nice visual reference and a fun read on top of that.(less)
A nice history of Chicago's famous improv comedy troupe. The book does a good job delving into Second City's origins, calling up Chicago's theater sce...moreA nice history of Chicago's famous improv comedy troupe. The book does a good job delving into Second City's origins, calling up Chicago's theater scene in the early 1950s as well as the acting "games" that inspired the group's original approach.
From there, author (and longtime Second City creative director) Sheldon Patinkin takes us to the present day, pausing to catch up with famous alumni, notably the Murray-Belushi-Ramis core in Chicago and the Akroyd-Candy-Radner glory days in Toronto. There are tons of familiar faces in here, from Alan Arkin to Tina Fey, and it's fun to see how they intersected with Second City (sometimes briefly) before moving on to other things.
The lifers have a presence as well, including original owner (and occasional director) Bernie Sahlins, producer Joyce Sloan and actor/director/madman Del Close. It may just be effective PR, but the book does have a nice familial feel, emphasizing the ties, and the occasional fights, that drew these disparate performers together.
The book is more a history than a humor collection; jokes and bits are interspersed throughout its pages, but it's more a collection of memories. There's often a lot going on--actors coming and going, new playhouses opening in different spots to try to make some money. The narrative sometimes seems reduced to just a sequence of events--"this happened, then this happened, etc." But the performer profiles sprinkled throughout and the clear reverence for what the group accomplished offer a unifying thread.
Hardly a tell-all, this is still a good read for comedy fans interested in the institutional side of things. It probably helps to be a Chicagoan...or at least a Torontonian.(less)