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My New York Diary

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Back in print is the classic graphic novel by the acclaimed (though no longer working in comics) iconic artist Julie Doucet. In one of the first contemporary graphic novels, Doucet abruptly packs her bags and moves to New York. Trouble follows her in the form of a jealous boyfriend, insecurity about her talent, her worsening epilepsy, and a tendency to self-medicate with booze and drugs.

104 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 1999

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About the author

Julie Doucet

68 books154 followers
Underground cartoonist and artist, best known for her autobiographical works such as Dirty Plotte and My New York Diary.

She began cartooning in 1987. Her efforts quickly began to attract critical attention, and she won the 1991 Harvey Award for "Best New Talent".

Shortly thereafter, she moved to New York. Although she moved to Seattle the following year, her experiences in New York formed the basis of the critically-acclaimed My New York Diary. She moved from Seattle to Berlin in 1995, before finally returning to Montreal in 1998. Once there, she released the twelfth and final issue of Dirty Plotte before beginning a brief hiatus from comics.

She returned to the field in 2000 with The Madame Paul Affair, a slice-of-life look at contemporary Montreal which was originally serialized in Ici-Montreal, a local alternative weekly. At the same time, she was branching out into more experimental territory, culminating with the 2001 release of Long Time Relationship, a collection of prints and engravings. In 2004, Doucet also published in French an illustrated diary (Journal) chronicling about a year of her life and, in 2006, an autobiography made from a collage of words cut from magazines and newspapers (J comme Je). In December 2007, Drawn & Quarterly will publish 365 Days: A Diary by Julie Doucet, in which she chronicles her life for a year, starting in late 2002.

She remains a fixture in the Montreal arts community, but in an interview in the June 22, 2006 edition of the Montreal Mirror, she declared that she had retired from long-form comics: "...it's quite a lot of work, and not that much money. I went to a newspaper to propose a comic strip because I only had to draw a small page and it would be out the next week. For once it was regular pay and good money."

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5 stars
878 (30%)
4 stars
993 (34%)
3 stars
739 (25%)
2 stars
216 (7%)
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67 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 147 reviews
Profile Image for Fabian.
947 reviews1,562 followers
January 3, 2019
Intimate, fun, and you won't breeze through a more aesthetically pleasing graphic novel than this one.

Doucet's insistence in drawing minutiae like bottles, wrappers, puddles, laundry, books, & junk all over the place elicits a feeling of permanence, of actually having lived in the Big Apple and having to let go of albatrosses clinging to the neck for the sake of success and a chance at literary triumph. It's brave & actually brings comfort to the idea of selling yourself & living Da Bomb bohemian lifestyle.
Profile Image for Alwynne.
585 reviews593 followers
March 20, 2023
Julie Doucet’s slice-of-life graphic piece builds on episodes from Doucet’s life which come together to form a narrative of her journey towards independence and her development as an author/artist - eventually succeeding through the mentorship of prominent comic artists Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Robert Crumb. Originally Canadian, Doucet opens with episodes set in a suburb of Montreal in 1983, where Julie fresh out of convent school is determined to rebel, meet boys and lose her virginity - most of which she manages although her encounters with men are exceptionally underwhelming. Hers is a male-dominated world, in which women are defined through their relationships with men, and men see no reason to respect women’s boundaries. Julie’s everyday is punctuated by incidents sparked by the losers and creeps who follow her on the street or stalk her even though she’s made it clear she’s not interested. But it’s obvious she doesn’t yet have the self-confidence to live alone, outside of a relationship. Instead, she vividly captures her encounters in a series of dark, black-and-white images, each richly detailed, meticulously recreating a world of run-down cramped apartments - every inch taken up with objects, scattered clothes and beer cans - and littered cityscapes.

Julie makes it through art school and moves to New York to live with a boyfriend who’s also an aspiring artist of sorts. She ends up in Washington Heights, which is beautifully realised in Doucet’s illustrations; it’s well before the days of high property prices and gentrification, the streets are lined with rubbish thrown out of windows, and it’s not safe for women to walk around alone even during the day. Julie lives on the fringes, listening to Sonic Youth and visiting clubs on the Lower East Side, taking drugs and vegging in front of the TV, but her boyfriend becomes more and more controlling and dependent on her wages. Her isolation is increased by epilepsy that’s becoming increasingly unmanageable. But at her tiny desk in a dingy apartment, Julie never stops working on her comics, embedded in a contemporary D.I.Y subculture and aesthetic that flourished in the punk and post-punk years, in which hand-crafted zines (fanzines) were central, distributed through a variety of underground networks. Through her zines Doucet compellingly recreates and reframes her life from her seizures to her disappointing sexual encounters, to a painful miscarriage. It’s a surprisingly compelling book and it’s no wonder Doucet’s regarded as so significant, one of a handful of female producers who paved the way for later graphic women artists/writers by breaking into an area primarily associated with men, and legitimising the representation of women’s everyday domestic and bodily existence.

Rating: 3.5
Profile Image for Mads P..
98 reviews12 followers
October 26, 2007
Pretty unremarkable as far as graphic novels go; I've read much better about similar topics. The drawings were too crowded. The writing and story nothing special. Persepolis, Epileptic, Blankets, and others are much better at dealing with some of the same subject matter and have better illustrations.
Profile Image for Hannah Garden.
978 reviews164 followers
November 17, 2018
Oh man I feel sort of surprised that I read this for the first time in 2012. It's impossible to really remember when you're first exposed to stuff, but as someone who's only been a comics person since 2010, Doucet feels like more advanced content than I would've guessed I'd've gotten to in the first two years.

I'm reading this new critical work on her right now though and if there's one good sign your critical work is doing a good job it's when it makes you super thirsty for the primary text. So I am enjoying the critical work enough that I had to put it down and go reread this real quick.

And it is great! It is so so great!! Doucet is a force and it's such a pleasure to encounter her.
Profile Image for Doug Haynes.
61 reviews9 followers
October 28, 2014
This book just made me sad, in general and for the author, and to no useful purpose.

It's the story of an amazingly naive young girl making horrible choices and how wretched they make her life. In the end she escapes to what is, I guess, a better situation but there is no feeling of growth or learning in it.

Well illustrated and laid out just short on being a real winner for the story.
Profile Image for CJ.
421 reviews
March 14, 2011
My son had to read this for a university class and then write a paper about it. He asked me to read the paper and I was intrigued about the book. I was underwhelmed. While Doucet is clearly a talented artist, she's not so much a writer. I found the whole book evocative of Phoebe Gloeckner's The Diary of a Teenage Girl. Gloeckner came out ahead.

I came away from the book with a bad taste in my mouth. Doucet portrays herself as an innocent young girl - but puts herself into so many terrible situations that I ended up wondering how innocent she really was. Where were her parents? They were completely absent in this story. Who lets their young, epileptic daughter move to New York (from Canada) and in with a man she barely knows?

Bad choice follows bad choice. Drawings were excellent - story was sub par.
Profile Image for Robert.
Author 37 books119 followers
December 3, 2019
12/2/19: Still great, could look at her panels all day long.

Really great to revisit this book and marvel at Julie Doucet's amazingly skilled, cluttery drawings that give so much visual information - sometimes almost more than you feel you can take, but it's all so fascinating. I don't know how she pulls it off. I read this slim volume very slowly and found myself staring at the pages, trying to figure it all out. I'd forgotten how harrowing the main story was too, but certainly remembered all over again with Doucet's help that living in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan sucks (lived there from late '95 until late '96 before we moved to midtown, thank god - those bloody long A train rides were the worst). Meanwhile, Julie D., like so many other awesome 90's cartoonists, has quit comics apparently for good and I mourn the loss still. Five stars.
Profile Image for Jason.
158 reviews45 followers
April 29, 2010
I don't read many female authors. I don't know why. Maybe the patriarchy has gelled me a bias. But Julie Doucet is delightful. she is charming and witty, and pokes fun in the smallest details--from the posters and cockroaches in the background, to the weird details of things like penises and the names on punk shirts. She allows the character of herself to get seduced by the most scummy, moronic men and she handles it with the panache of a fairy. She loses her virginity in this book to a nonsense hippy of an artist and the sound effect of their sex is "flitch...flitch...flitch..." as he wildly pounces her and she hardly feels it, as if to say 'Oh, so this is sex.'

Her relationship debacle reminds me of a friend i had who moved to new york for the same reason, and the overbearing protector she moved there with lost his mind and induced the loss of her own. But when she broke out, she became so free. You can see this ticklish freedom in her expression and satire. It is refreshing.

She has a masterful way of exploding the setting into a single dimension, so that everything is very apparent, very bubbly and visible--overwhelming, teetering on too overwhelming. But it's good, because the anxiety is created. I'm not ashamed to say that i've developed a bit of a crush. So, ms. julie, i'll have you know. I'm probably as big of a douchebag as the other flippant trolls you've messed with, but i think you'd draw me well. I can see myself as a whiny anal miscreant who wastes his talent in drunken debauchery and the abuse of women by means of an insecure stranglehold on their time and patience. But what an entertaining cartoon i'd make!
8 reviews1 follower
May 9, 2008
How to draw your heart out without being maudlin, romantic or boring.
Profile Image for lucy  black.
507 reviews34 followers
March 14, 2017
I loved this. It seems to me to be an almost perfect example of this type of autobiographical graphic novel. It balances just the right amount of text/drawing, detail/big picture, sex/mundanity, politics/chatter. I really enjoyed the tone, historical details and funny references.
Profile Image for Meaghan.
357 reviews10 followers
November 23, 2013
Reading Julie Doucet's cartoon tale of her move from Montreal to New York to live with her boyfriend is pretty much like reading someone's diary, if that diary were illustrated with amazingly detailed and stylish drawings. I love Doucet's illustrations. Each panel is absolutely crammed with tiny, realistic touches: her apartment in New York, for example, looks like an actual small, cluttered living space. I can only imagine how long it must have taken her to draw this, and I wasn't surprised when I read that she gave up on comics partly because of the time involved.

Anyway, the story consists of scenes from Doucet's life, starting with two short stories set in Montreal. The first tells about how Doucet lost her virginity, and the second deals with a very clingy boyfriend. The extended narrative about her move to New York makes up the largest part of the book. I'm sure everyone who's ever reviewed this described it as "no holds barred" or "warts and all" or something similar, but you really can't get around it. This seems to be a totally uncensored story. I found myself getting pissed off at the unnamed New York guy's douchey behaviour on Doucet's behalf; it's clear he had major issues related to being in a relationship with a woman who was more successful than he was. Of course, this is Doucet's side of the story. But really, the guy seems like an asshole.
Profile Image for Emilia P.
1,708 reviews49 followers
October 6, 2011
Bam. I love you, Julie D.
You're kind of brutally honest about what's going on around you, the drugs you are doing, the seizures you are having in the bathtub, and the comics that have arrived in the mail from John Porcellino! In this fabulous installment of Julie's life, she chronicles a few choice moments of art school, and then skips ahead to a stay in New York with a kind of terrible, drug addicted, emotionally needy boyfriend, who I sympathized with a little when all was said and done. I'm not sure that was intended, but dude, sad.

What gets me about Doucet's stuff is that she's so consistently spacy/in her own world/not digging into her own feelings about stuff as she tells her stories, but her artwork is incredibly emotional and rich and messy in contrast. And also that whole, it's a lady doing this messy, raw, dirty, sexy art-stuff. That's a big deal, I guess. Yay.
Profile Image for Meredith.
183 reviews3 followers
December 18, 2018
Good introduction to Doucet's work before taking the plunge in purchasing her Dirty Plotte anthology from Drawn and Quarterly. Her drawing style is very cool and gritty. She also gives credit to her reader and doesn't rely on 'telling' and instead takes the reader on a journey to figure it out themselves by showing before spilling the beans of whats going on in some of her comics.

I love reading the experience of Canadian cartoonists that take place in my country and also about their experience abroad. At the end of this, Doucet mentions a move to Seattle where Genevieve Castee also settled. I might look deeper into that!
Profile Image for Lzz.
60 reviews18 followers
September 27, 2019
Read this for the first time in college and just read it again today. I think before I couldn't recognize Julie's random sexual encounters for the violence they were; many of them border on rape or simply are rape, though only Julie can really speak to that. Anyway, content warning for sexual violence, obviously. In terms of the art, the bobblehead, uncute faux chibi style of Julie's characters doesn't exactly grab me. Overall, she captures the pretentious / boring milieu of art school, as well as the irritatingly persistent and pervasive nature of misogynist patriarchy, in amusing ways that makes this graphic novel a worthwhile read.
Profile Image for Sam.
3,180 reviews235 followers
March 10, 2018
I found this both depressing and infuriating to read as Doucet makes one naive and bad decision after another spiraling into a mess of her own creation. I get that people make mistakes but I'm sure the whole point is to learn from them, not to keep making them. The story aside, the illustrations are detailed and honest giving a no holds barred approach, which on one hand is great but on the other means there is a lot of information to take in. Overall it wasn't a bad book but not one I would read again either.
Profile Image for Ma'Belle.
1,018 reviews35 followers
April 1, 2016
Julie Doucet's works were recommended to me mostly for her deconstruction of What it Means to be Woman. This collection was the only one my local public library carries, and was one of the two main titles I was suggested to read.

It ended up being on my short hate-list of most boring, poorly-told graphic memoir garbage books that I couldn't even get through no matter how many times I tried.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
486 reviews40 followers
November 29, 2017
It's rare that I'll put down a graphic novel rather than muscling through parts I don't like or enjoy. I put this one down after two or three of the vignettes/episodes.
Profile Image for Sy.
14 reviews
July 9, 2020
Went into this blind while high—I CANNOT OVERSTATE HOW MUCH YOU SHOULD NOT DO THAT!!!

First twenty-ish pages were very rough, man. But after I collected myself and finished it the opening seemed earned. The toxicity of the men in Julie’s life perpetuates their behaviour that she suffers through, and the quick and hard opening chapters were constant reminders of the terrible terrible ways that behaviour manifests. Seeing Julie grow as a character and eventually gtfo, while seemingly not a super happy ending, was v satisfying and left me with hope.

All in all a very well done graphic memoir. The art style reminded of me Charles Burnes (who makes a cameo appearance) with its detailed expressions and extremely black panels and all the little messy details that really s u c k you into those panels and make the memoir feel more lived in.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Alexandra Bazhenova-Sorokina.
142 reviews23 followers
April 15, 2022
Удивительно неуютный и неприятный мир и герои. Хороший антидот для романтизирующих город, но в целом тяжеловато и не человеколюбиво.
Profile Image for Eugene.
26 reviews5 followers
September 19, 2021
Первое впечатление от беглого перелистывания: "чернуха какая-то". Нет, не чернуха - живо, тепло, сочувственно. Но немного не хватает более внятного сюжета (ну, это реально _дневник_, чего я ждал-то).
Profile Image for Océane Philippe.
48 reviews3 followers
January 30, 2023
Un journal sans concession pour une jeune femme mal dans sa peau, qui ne sait pas bien s'entourer.
Un dessin chargé d'émotions. Tous les visages de ses personnages laissent entrevoir une certaine méchanceté, ou du moins une souffrance.
Ça donne envie d'en découvrir plus, notamment son dernier livre, une frise ininterrompue de 20m de carnet !
Profile Image for Katrina.
45 reviews2 followers
October 7, 2007
I enjoyed Doucet's drawings of little bottles and the clutter that fills all her inhabitations. If I'm going to invest my time in a graphic novel I MUST like the drawings, otherwise I can't read it. I also liked how she was making comics in the book, using pen and ink. I just got done with my first real pen and ink drawing and I really liked using it and reading this book and seeing pen and ink work at the same time.

I liked the memoir stories much better than her actual New York Diary though. Her remembrances when she was just out of high school and in college seem more important and significant, maybe because she is more removed because it didn't just happen, or maybe she is being more selective about what to write/draw about since it was so long ago. The things that stick in your memory from the past are usually more interesting or significant to your life than what just happened to you. It seems a little more real too, struggling though school, not liking school. Her New York Diary seemed more mundane even though really intense shit happened to her in New York. Maybe I just started to get annoyed with her and couldn't feel any of the empathy I did in the first section, because you realize that all the bad stuff that's happening to her is her own fault and she's how old? The just out of high school bad experiences are more tolerable because she's naive and it's like a coming of age story. I also can't feel sorry for her when she's name dropping comic artists and at a party in NYC and puts in her comic how successful she is. What's that all about? A little braggy I think, maybe I'm just envious because I want attention from Art Spiegelman. At this point it's very narcassistic, not that having a comic book about yourself isn't, but I think it's going beyond creating interesting stories and just becoming a general account of events which may or may not be interesting to other people. I think I'm just bitter about the whole putting how famous you are in your own comic book thing. And her boyfriend and her are annoying at times. Maybe I was in a bad mood when I read the second part, but the julie in junior college was much more genuine.
Profile Image for Printable Tire.
745 reviews79 followers
October 12, 2010
Am I finally sick of the hipster in new york city comix genre? No! Not yet, though I'm sure some time in the future what I find to be anathema in prose form will also be detestable to me in comic form as well. I liked this artist's drawing style, the cluttered spaces and how everyone looks like a cat/adult baby, though after a while in can become a trite bit claustrophobic, nauseating and samey. Also, I know she is from Canada and English is her second language, but this book could have used a little editing in regards to syntax and sentence design.

I liked the two pre-new york stories best. There was too much of a gap between them and the new york stories and I think some of my connection to the character was lost along the way, so at times I felt like her emotionally abusive/self-destructive boyfriend, cut off from her daily life and rising to fame and thus a tad bit jealous when it all happens so quickly (What? She's turning down the Village Voice now? That cocky bitch! When did she get so successful and popular? Did I miss that? She's not communicating with me. Why isn't she telling me these things?!). It's not that the pacing was bad, there were just more parts missing than I would have liked. For instance, did she ever have a day job? And I'm sure she's not telling the whole side of the story with the boyfriend. It would've been nice to see some parts when he wasn't a total manipulative jerk. All in all not bad and enjoyable if a bit predictable, daily-foibles-of-an-artist stuff.
Profile Image for Steven.
25 reviews1 follower
January 24, 2008
This is the book that renewed my love for comics. I had grown up reading the superhero stuff and some of the 'mature reader' stuff in the mid-80's like 'american flagg', 'dark knight returns' and 'cerebus'. Then, basically, high school set in and i stopped reading them altogether. I would glance occasionally at an issue of 'cerebus' whenever I was visiting argos books in grand rapids, but that was the extent of my comic reading.

'My New York Diary' was the first sort of auto-biographical comic I had read, which by now is a mainstay in the alternacomics genre...but, Julie Doucet's tale of a Junior College student and her eventual move to New York City was everything a great comic and autobiography should be. Actually, I have no idea what the criteria for what great comics and autobiography are, but, I liked 'diary' quite a bit.

I should mention that Julie Doucet is an inventive artist. Her panels are filled to capacity with details. Every empty beer bottle and the assortment of junk that make up the background of that first dirty, dingey apartment that everyone has is drawn with care. The panels are cluttered like an tiny apartment is.

I can't remember too much about the story other than it is poignant. As a matter of fact, there's a copy of it at the kalamazoo public library...which is kind of mindblowing. I suppose it's a testement to how far comics or graphic novels and libraries for that matter, have come. I think I will read it again.
Profile Image for Lauren orso.
404 reviews3 followers
April 15, 2010
one of the things i like about julie doucet is, like, how little autonomy she writes herself as having, in spite of her awesome career and indie success. the pre-stories in this trade show her falling into sexual relationships she doesn't care about, and a catastrophic romantic relationship she all to willingly goes through the motions of, while describing the blase reality via thought bubble.

the meat of it is the four sections of her moving to new york to start, live and finish a disastrous relationship with the worst dude ever. she does a lot of drugs, has too many seizures, and forgets about her work in lieu of this shitty emotional terrorist who is keeping her hostage in washington heights, far from the glitz and punk glamour of the early 90s east village (i mean, RENT! joe's apartment! come ON!). eventually, her career takes off and she moves to brooklyn, and then onto seattle, another city she hasn't spent time in.

as with all doucet's work, i like relating to her haphazard bullshit, except without my being penpals with john porcellino. this falls directly into the category of mid20s whatthefuckamidoingness that i've loved, oh, forever, and having found this book in a pile of garbage in a junkstore was all the better an omen.
Profile Image for Rob.
431 reviews29 followers
December 29, 2012
(7/10) My New York Diary is a comic about domestic violence not polite enough to speak its name -- the kind of everyday domination men exercise over the women in their life. Lured by the image of a trendy artistic life in New York City, Doucet (or the comics-memoir version of her) stumbles into an unfamiliar and abusive world -- but this is not so much a phenomenon of New York as one of a patriarchal society.

In comics this idea was first really articulated by Phoebe Gloeckner, and Gloeckkner is an obvious influence on Doucet, from the beats of the story to the grotesque art style. (Where influence turns into derivativeness is another issue altogether.) This works better in the short stories we see at the start of this volume. In a longer narrative, like the one about the abusive cartoonist boyfriend that takes up most of the book, after a while the ugliness just starts to seem repetitive. (Although this may legitimately be how living through such a relationship feels like.) My New York Diary didn't really click for me, and it certainly isn't the major work the ad copy makes it out to be, but it's worth checking out if you want a little ugliness in your comics.
Profile Image for Delphine.
136 reviews6 followers
April 15, 2017
Essoufflant! Ce livre me rappelle presque Gotlib, tellement les pages sont pleines. Beaucoup de détails, beaucoup de texte, on en vient à ne presque plus voir ce qui se passe dans une case. Pour le peu que je connais de la BD, j'ai l'impression que ça reflète bien la période de publication (90s) et le style reste tout à fait adapté aux thèmes abordés.
Bref, je suis mitigée. L'auteure décrit à merveille les "pièges" masculins et le genre de relation toxique qu'on peut avoir avec un homme émotivement instable et manipulateur, surtout lorsqu'on se retrouve loin de chez soi, mais d'une manière qui manque parfois de profondeur. On ressent plus un malaise qu'une compréhension de la situation, ce qui, à mon sens, illustre bien le point de vue d'une personne qui est trop proche d'un événement pour l'analyser, qui reste encore trop jeune pour comprendre que ce qui lui arrive n'est pas normal. En ce sens, on sent bien que c'est un récit de la jeunesse, de l'apprentissage, une promesse de maturité future.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 147 reviews

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