In one of the best graphic novels published in recent years, Chester Brown tells the story of his alienated youth in an almost detached, understated manner, giving the book an eerie, dream-like quality. For the new 2002 definitive softcover edition Brown has designed new layouts for the entire book, using "white" panel backgrounds instead of the black pages of the first edition.
Chester Brown was born in Montreal, Canada on May 16, 1960 and grew up in the nearby suburb of Chateauquay. His career path was set at the age of 12 when the local newspaper, The St. Lawrence Sun, published one of his comic strips.
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
At 19, he moved to Toronto and got a day job while he worked on his skills as a cartoonist at night and on weekends. In 1983, he began to self-publish his work in photocopied ï¿½mini comicsï¿½ under the title Yummy Fur. These pamphlets attracted attention in comic book industry publications, and in 1986 the Toronto-based comic book publisher Vortex Comics approached Brown. The first Vortex issue of Yummy Fur sold well, and Brown quit his day job and began working full-time as a cartoonist.
In the pages of Yummy Fur, Brown serialized a bleakly humorous story called Ed the Happy Clown which was published as a graphic novel in 1989 and went on to win several awards.
In 1991, Chris Oliveros managed to convince Brown to sign on with Oliverosï¿½s new comic book company, Drawn & Quarterly. Brownï¿½s The Playboy was released in 1992 and was the first graphic novel published by D+Q.
In 1994, Drawn & Quarterly published I Never Liked You. Brown believes that this autobiographical work about his adolescence is his best book.
Brown was persuaded in 1998 to assemble a book collecting his shorter pieces: The Little Man: Short Strips, 1980-1995.
Also in 1998, Brown began work on Louis Riel: A Comic Strip Biography which was finally completed in mid-2003 and collected as a critically acclaimed graphic novel later that year.
The risk in telling stories about yourself, is that you open yourself to interpretations and judgments as if you were a fictional character.
In this memoir of the author's teenage years, set in a suburb of Montreal, the illustrations are so minimalist, and the text so sparse, that the reader is bound to fill in the blanks.
Chester Brown seems to be an archetypical awkward, introverted kid, who is mocked by his school mates because he refuses to swear. He also struggles with showing his feelings and with engaging emotionally. The focus of the memoir is on his interaction with girls and with his (mentally ill) mother, and on the feeling of terror that comes with expressing deep emotions. The reader is never provided with explanations about his behavior and Chester's face is expressionless throughout. There are only occasional glimpses into his thoughts. What is really going on inside his mind? Is he emotionally empty? Or is it only teenage angst? The reader is left to wonder.
A sparse but unhurried rendering of Brown's memories of being a teenager who ruthlessly toys with the affections of several starry-eyed girls. Actually it's not as bad as that, although Brown presents the actions of his hormone-riddled younger self with some severity. What really makes this graphic memoir "cooking with gas" (Blame my creative writing instructor from college for that Carverism.) is the seemingly secondary narrative thread of the casually cruel indifference with which young Brown treats his ailing mother. I Never Liked You is ridden with unspoken guilt over Brown's own emotional disconnect from the gruesome and protracted death of his mother, making it a meatier read than just an account of post-pubescent awkwardness and sexually charged wrestling. Affecting and brief; a half hour read with minor heartbreak.
I'd only read bits and pieces of I Never Liked You when it was serialized in the original issues of Yummy Fur back in the early 90's. This is the first time I've read the whole thing cover to cover, and I only did so because my friend and fellow cartoonist, Mari, raved about it to me recently. I'd always been pretty lukewarm on Chester Brown for some reason but Mari is right: he really is an amazing comics creator and a smart, inventive writer. His use of an objective, unemotional narrative voice functions in direct contrast to the often heartbreaking events of this autobiographical story and it works really well, underscoring the major story theme of unexpressed, repressed emotions and the resultant psychic fallout. Brown’s page layouts and fragile line-work also strengthen the book's overall emotional impact. Great stuff.
Maybe it’s just a prejudice, but I feel like autobiography is a genre that’s easy to do lazily. This opinion is probably rooted in a sense that, on the most basic level, autobiographies just don’t require the imagination necessary to write fiction. What’s more, my negative impression of the genre is compounded not just by the fact that supermarket book aisles are packed with autobiographies (allegedly) written by all manner of dire celebrities, but also by the large number of autobiographical comics that seem to be get published. Whenever I go to a bookstore’s “graphic novel” section, it always seems to be totally dominated by autobiographical works that generally don’t seem particularly inspiring, often relying on some feature of the author’s life – rather than any claim to artistic or literary merit – as the main selling point.
On the surface, I Never Liked You should be one of the most heinous examples of the genre: it doesn’t even boast an interesting gimmick to separate it from the crowd; it’s just about the adolescence of an awkward, introverted white guy in North American suburbia. And yet, in this work Chester Brown demonstrates resolutely that a graphic memoir can be just as inventive, original, compelling and creative as any other comic.
I think it’s interesting to compare I Never Liked You to Blankets by Craig Thompson, another autobiographical comic that I’ve read and loved. On the surface, they have a lot in common: not only are both primarily about their authors’ adolescence, but their author-protagonists are also both socially awkward, emotionally stunted products of a conservative Christian upbringing. However, in approach, the two works could scarcely be more different. Whereas Blankets is all about Thompson’s intense emotions and passions, Brown depicts his teenage self as inscrutable and often passive, going with the flow of events rather than taking any steps to shape them. Whereas Blankets focuses on one all-consuming romance, I Never Liked You shows a series of relationships with romantic/sexual potential . Whereas Thompson tackles religion and poor parenting head-on, Brown addresses it much more indirectly. Whereas Blankets’ pages are bursting with lush, detailed artwork, I Never Liked You features minimalist line work and a lot of negative space.
I think “minimalist” is the key word for describing I Never Liked You. Both narratively and visually, this comic is characterized by the utmost subtlety. As a result, it may be less immediately moving than Blankets, but I think overall it’s the more accomplished work, and it feels distinctly raw and honest. It consists of a series of vignettes that are mostly unremarkable on their own, but together form an engrossing and affecting story. It doesn’t spoon-feed the reader anything, and only very tentatively provides insight into Brown’s thoughts and feelings, leaving the reader with a degree of uncertainty that reflects that of the protagonist. Similarly, the pacing and drawings are composed so as to impart an appropriate sense of alienation and tension.
In short, this comic is impressive from the perspective of craft, but also a real page-turner that I struggled to put down. It’s gone a long way to assuaging some of my misgivings about autobiography, so I’m likely to read more from that genre in the future – including others from Chester Brown!
Imagine, for a moment, the comic strip world of Charlie Brown without the whimsy. Take away Pigpen and his ever-present cloud of dust. Take away Snoopy typing away atop his doghouse or dreaming of being the Red Baron. No teacher going "Mwah Mwah Mwah". No crazy big heads. When Lucy steals the football away just before Charlie kicks it, no looney tooney somersaults in the air. Strip away, in other words, the cartooniness through which Charles Schultz filtered his despair, and what you're left with is the sad story of a lonely, bitter boy who more often that not ends up flat on his back, a black-haired girl laughing over him.
I Never Liked You , a graphic memoir written and drawn by Chester Brown and excerpted from his longer series Yummy Fur, tells of just such a lonely, bitter boy, in just such a relatively whimsy free world. Here are a group of children seen mostly without adult supervision: Chester, our lonely hero trapped in his own skin, his occasionally present little brother, Gordon. Across the street, the beautiful and sometimes stuck-up Connie who Chester may or may not like; her sister Carrie who definitely carries a perpetually unrequited flame for Chester. And the requisite girl next door is here as well, a long dark-haired girl named Sky, who becomes as the red-head to Charlie Brown, a girl for Chester to miserably fantasize over.
What's different here is that Chester, while working in a comic-strip form, is not interested in locking these characters into a perpetual childhood, like Charlie Brown or Calvin and Hobbes, and he's not interested in following in the footsteps of the cartoonish excess of those strips either. Spanning most of his childhood, from the fourth grade, when he and Connie shared the walk to school everyday, on into high school, where such easy intimacy seems impossible, Chester manages to work a kind of minimalist magic. He divides his life into those essential moments, and those essential moments, he pares down into a few pages of sparse, black and white panels. Such a stripped down tone, rather than lessening the emotional impact, gets at the naked vulnerability of Chester. It exposes the gentle fury he keeps locked inside--the restrained and confused yearnings, the silent struggle with the unnerving transformation of his body, of his desire, and of the lives of those people around him, including his parents, especially his mom, whose own journey ends up having such an impact on Chester and on us the readers.
It turns out, not surprisingly I guess, that it’s possible to impart warmth and spirit without a wise-ass dog or an irrepressibly dirty boy. Not all hearts sing out loud after all, some go thump, thump, thump, silently to themselves, and all you can see from the outside is the barest shiver in the cloth covering their chest.
A minimalist approach to style equates to the equally understated emotions of the protagonist (and author). Thin lines wrap around simplistic characters and the environment that ensconces them. What it lacks in visual adornments it makes up for in honesty.
I find it strange that this is the most popular book by Chester Brown on this website. I feel like his autobiography works are poor in comparison to his Louis Riel biography work and Ed the Happy Clown and his other fictional work.
I Never Liked You is not a romance story. It feels more like an atonement. A biographical recounting of Brown's own experiences as a young man of perpetual nonchalance, what stood out most about this subdued but weighty rendition, was the author's delicate and downplayed exchange with his mother which proved essential to the ending. How Brown managed to provoke the reader's emotion whilst maintaining an impassive tone made this work striking.
“I never use symbolism. I just like to draw skeletons.”
A gawky testament to things left unsaid. Really loved every second spent reading this. Put me back in a time of khaki shorts, watching YouTube compilations of chicks making out, whopping inactivity, but also a stilted sense of purity without the self-assurance to act on it. To tell friends I love them, and to tell my Mom the same thing. To hold someone’s hand, or to be moved by the moving. Almost all those scenes were absent, but sometimes the world can be as impenetrable as your childhood thoughts. Still.
Честер Браун — один из пионеров альтернативных комиксов, он начал издавать их ещё в начале 1980-х. I Never Liked You (1994) — его автобиографический магнум опус, откровенно рассказывающий про неловкую юность странноватого подростка, основное душевное состояние которого — отсутствие каких бы то ни было эмоций. Честера дразнят в школе за то, что он принципиально не употребляет бранных слов, с четвёртого класса в него влюблена младшая сестра его соседки, а сам он испытывает неожиданную тягу к другой девушке с чересчур пышным бюстом. Повёрнутой на религии маме сложно найти контакт с замкнутыми сыновьями, весь день торчащими перед ящиком, а папы в доме будто бы и вовсе нет. Что со всем этим делать — решительно не понятно, и Честер просто плывёт по течению, как бревно с лёгкой формой синдрома Аспергера. Как марсианин, вдруг оказавшийся на Земле и не знающий, какой социальный протокол принят для той или иной ситуации.
В итоге получается довольно необычный, местами трогательный, местами забавный комикс с обрывочной структурой повествования, которая лишь усиливает ощущение неловкости, неприк��янности и общего непонимания происходящего со стороны главного героя, который наделяет события смыслом лишь глубоко пост-фактум. Эдакие лайтовые "Одеяла", только без особого романтического флёра. Ещё мне эта книга странным образом напомнила "Включая её имя и лицо" про столь же чудаковатых белорусских анимешников. Ну и стоит отметить, что Честер Браун не имеет никакого отношения к Джеффри Брауну и его бесконечному унылому нытью (см. "Неуклюжий"), хотя рисунок сделан в похожей стилистике. Главный герой здесь не страдалец, а скорее статист в воспоминаниях о своей собственной жизни.
very conflicted!! I did really enjoy this breezy lil graphic novel memoir but it made me SO frustrated because teenage Chester Brown is the worst !!! All the conflicts he faces in the book are 100% his fault because he is wildly emotionally unavailable!! Was also a little miffed that there’s not a tight conclusion and it sort of just ends abruptly. All that said?? I liked it and was very invested in it and all the different (disastrous) romantic entanglements Chester was involved in, which the book largely revolves around. A solid 3.5 stars (his book Ed The Happy Clown is a 5 star read imo!!)
Stunning minimalist autobiographical graphic novel, in which Brown interweaves the story of his growth to teenagehood and sexual maturation with the story of the deterioration and death of his mother. Profound but elliptical, this book has a lot to say about emotional intimacy and repression, without ever saying any of it out loud.
I Never Liked You is an autobiographical graphic novel written and illustrated by Chester Brown. It deals with the teenage Brown's introversion and difficulty talking to others, especially members of the opposite sex – including his mother.
Chester William David Brown is a Canadian cartoonist.
Set during Brown’s adolescence in Châteauguay, Quebec during the seventies. Chester is a thin, long-haired teenager who is awkward, introverted, and better able to express himself through drawing than speaking. He constantly and inexplicably turns away girls, even though he is interested in them and they in him.
Except in his imagination, Chet has difficulty expressing affection even for his mother. She talks to Chet and his younger brother Gord about issues that embarrass them, and the religious teaching she has instilled in them has rendered Chet unable to bring himself to swear, for which he is teased and goaded at school.
I Never Liked You is written and constructed rather well. The sparse narrative has minimal dialogue and the artwork is rather simple with some pages consist only of a single small panel. It is a wonderful study in adolescent socialization and the peculiar combination of budding sexuality, self-obsessed dreaminess and downright mean-spiritedness that epitomizes the teenage years.
All in all, I Never Liked You is a minimalist, but haunting memoir of the artist's troubled adolescence.
I absolutely loved this one. Chester Brown's adolescence portrait drew me in completely. His seemingly distancing problem struck a chord with me. his inner battles of convincing himself to say the 'right thing' is a very true and accurate picture of mind and a lot of peoples inner turmoil. Events pass us by and we wonder 'If only I would have...'. Maybe then we wouldn't be cutting ourselves our tapping a vein.
The artwork is simple but fits the format wonderful, same as the position of the panels. The flow and feel of this melodramatic portrait is truly enhanced by the art style.I was actually stricken aghast when I saw his mother crippled and wasted lying in bed (pg162) and his reluctance to open up.
One of my favorite childhood memoir comics. I just read this for the second time, and it's striking how unemotional and unnostalgic chester is in his recounting of this. The only emotions are the emotions of him as a kid/teen, and these are exactly as inconsistent and situationally inappropriate as all the emotions I remember having as a young person.
Depending on how you want to look at this book it could either be a one star or a four. I didn’t really much enjoy this overall but it wasn’t boring. As a story it is not great but as an overall piece it has its moments. It’s not substantial with meaning but it does show adolescence.
This is a really poignant autobiographical graphic novel originally serialized in 1993 of the renowned graphic artist´s middle school angst as well as family woes, conveyed in a sparse yet effective style in black and white/pen & ink - without too much text. Perhaps the starkness of the story matches the bleakness of the small town in Quebec that author lived in during those years. I remember following Brown and the other D&Q artists back in the 1990s - picking up whatever I could at Tower, usually only when the books were discounted. How time has flown by and things have changed. Tower is no more and I rarely go to bookstores, other than the book sections at thrift shops, for years if not decades by now. I switched to libraries rather than buying books, and tried to donate books as well since my collection had gotten out of hand. But gone are the days when happiness really was shopping Tower for bargains in CDs, books, even apparel. Those days are over since no-one buys CDs anymore - well, hardly anyone. Most people switched to Youtube or downloading tunes from subscription services. I still actually borrow CDs from the library, perhaps out of nostalgia. Anyway, enough of the digression. The graphic novel ¨I Never Liked You¨ is about Brown´s experiences within his social milieu in middle school, as well as how his family dynamics play out. In each case, Brown is unable or unwilling to extend himself and actually tell anyone he loves them. Perhaps he has grown a self-protective emotional ¨hard shell¨ because of the incessant inter and intra-group maneuvering at school, and prefers to keep himself aloof from the cliques there. At home, he and his brother seem to be occupied with staying out of the way of the distant perhaps even absent parents. So what is the alternative for Brown other than to construct his own world - which is what he does in his wonderful and wonderfully detailed drawings, using as he says a Triple Zero Rapidograph, which produces a very thin, even line. That too brought back some memories for me since when I was an adolescent, which would have been back in the 1960s, interested in drawing, it was considered the coolest thing to actually own a Rapidograph. I never did own one, though, but I did have a fantastic Sheaffer snorkel fountain pen, with which I drew endless pen and ink drawings (& it was based on these idle drawings, elaborate doodles really, that I was able to get into an elite HS based on grades and the portfolio, so ¨wasting time¨ on these drawings wasn't such a bad thing after all). I lost that pen somewhere along the line (ha ha) and since tried to recreate the magic of those years, but to no avail. I never picked up the drawing bug again after HS, sadly enough. But I did gain an appreciation of art - due to the incessant art history classes we art majors were subjected to, with the endless trips to museums therein to study and write reports about works of art - and that too turned out to be a valuable cultural asset since going to museums, studying or contemplating the art works, is something I never gave up on (except for the past couple of years since covid hit). Ideally, I suppose I would have liked to set out on an art career like Brown, but that was not to be according to my parents, who wanted me to get a regular academic college education that might lead to some improved employment opportunities, rather than go to art school, since they (of course) regarded anything art-related as intrinsically highly chancy and more or less leading to a life of poverty, given the extreme chance that a person in the arts is not going to actually make it by any stretch of the imagination. Or even make a living at it. So that was the end of my youthful art adventure. Anyway, I would recommend this graphic novel - which is a memoir of sorts in graphic novel form - the drawings are pristinely perfect, and the text understated and schematic. This is a book about dealing with annoying people at school, navigating the shoals of various female classmates that are interested in Brown, plus the banality or even sterility of home life. As ¨tortured¨ as it was (in an understated mild way of course) it is still worth reading, since it´s such a great depiction of the middle-school issues that sometimes make school unpleasant for students, perhaps especially, sensitive or thoughtful ones.
Teenage first love. Feelings of affection left unsaid. When love is the elephant in the room, does one's inner feelings match one's observable actions, and does one's actions match one's spoken words?
This memoir is all about feelings of affection left unsaid, yet expressed in typically awkward ways. In one instance, the cute blonde high school girl across the street wrestles the main character (Chester) for his cartoonist's craft pen, which she had "secretly stolen" in plain sight from his drawing table. * Wink, Wink * She wants him to want it back. Naturally, he does want it back, and some sexually charged wrestling for the pen ensues, with the two rolling all over the floor with each other.
Similarly, on a different occasion, the same cute blonde neighborhood girl invites Chester to help her wash and dry the family dishes after dinner. He does it promptly and without complaint.
WHEW! All this theater, in lieu of actual "flirting," and "making out!" It is a lot of work! But, you gotta learn somewhere. Yikes, the tension; the nervous energy, all thinly disguised behind a flimsy veil of nonchalance. But, what other choices do confused teens have? Guys are immature.
* * Note * * to all high school girls -- if you are considering alternative choices beyond the immature moron high school guys in your class, JUST SAY NO to doing the dishes with R. Kelly. Especially at his house.
Chester, the immature guy, compounds the awkwardness. He knows the cute blonde has a crush on him, but tells ANOTHER girl with dark hair that he "loves" her! Does he really love the dark haired girl, or does he love the idea of loving her simply because the dark haired girl has large breasts, like the naked ladies in Playboy? Ugh. I did mention that guys are morons, right?
It would be a reasonable guess that Chester loves (likes?) the cute blond girl across the street (they wrestle! they wash dishes! they have an easy rapport), but he says nothing to her about his feelings. Because the risk of the blonde rejecting Chester is low -- her crush is obvious -- maybe he can roll the dice with the dark haired girl?
And, as an added complication in this hotbed of teenage love (lust?), Chester has an easy friendship with the cute blonde girl's older sister, who is closer to his age. But the older sister is aloof and may or may not like him back. She is high risk, for sure.
Is this ongoing incongruity between feelings and actions and words due to Chester's hormone-driven desire, and simultaneous inability to follow through on his feelings? I'll bet it is, but who knows what a teenager is thinking?
In an unexpected, but honest, plot twist, the memoir offers a hint that emotional awkwardness is not limited to the young, or to Chester alone. When Chester's mother dies, we learn of a more generalized societal disconnect between words, actions, and feelings.
Chester at this young age is not equipped to process the death of his parent. He may be in denial about it. He experiences -- almost as an observer -- profound grief in his own family over this loss. The grief is shared in the neighborhood, but again, feelings of love for Chester's mom, and the pain of loss, are largely left unexpressed by words, across not only his immediate family, but also among the kids and the grown-ups in the neighborhood.
Sadly, his surviving parent tries to shield the boy from participating in the funeral and communal grieving process, to further compound Chester's isolated suffering in silence. Universal awkwardness has no boundaries; emotions are difficult to come to terms with. At any age.
WHY does the simple act of saying "I love you" to the ones you REALLY LOVE (in either your family, in tragedy, or in your feelings of love for the girl(s) across the street) seem impossible? Why is it all so hard? And what is love, really, anyway? It seems to be inexpressible, and it feels timelessly, agelessly, awkward to verbalize.
This cartoon memoir of high school first love rings true. It is told simply. With spare dialogue. Spare drawings. Yet it touches on universal experience. In fact, the entire work parallels, and captures the essence of, the pop song by Ingrid Michaelson, "Girls Chase Boys:"
"All the broken hearts in the world still beat Let's not make it harder than it has to be Ooh, it's all the same thing Girls chase boys chase girls All the broken hearts in the world still beat Let's not make it harder than it has to be Ooh, it's all the same thing Girls chase boys chase girls
"I'm a little let down, but I'm not dead There's a little bit more that has to be said (oh oh) You play me, now I play you too Let's just call it over
"All the broken hearts in the world still beat Let's not make it harder than it has to be Ooh, it's all the same thing Girls chase boys chase girls . . ."
" . . . Chase girls chase boys chase boys chase girls
"I got two hands, one beating heart And I'll be alright, I'm gonna be alright Yeah I got two hands, one beating heart And I'll be alright Gonna be alright . . ."
Antaisin tälle 1+ tähteä. Plussa tulee siitä, että tämä oli lyhyt ja nopea lukea. Tämä oli yksi tylsimpiä teoksia, jonka olen ikinä lukenut. Loistava osoitus siitä, miksi keskivertoihmisen ei pitäisi kirjoittaa omaelämäkertaa: elämä ei usein ole kamalan kiinnostavaa.
Sarjakuvaa kannattelee se, että päähenkilö ei uskalla kiroilla, koska äiti raivostui kiroilusta hänen ollessaan lapsi. Koulussa ihmiset yrittävät saada häntä kiroilemaan tuloksetta. Tämä on kirjan kiinnostavin juoni, eikä sekään ole millään tavalla kiinnostava. Sarjakuvassa on välähdyksiä satunnaisista arkisista tilanteista, joilla ei tunnu olevan sen suurempaa merkitystä.
En pitänyt myöskään piirtotyylistä. Kaikki hahmot ovat isopäisiä tikku-ukkoja. Paitsi tietenkin päähenkilön ihastus, jolla on kurveja ja valtavat rinnat. Vaikka tarkoitus onkin selvästi ollut luoda hahmot päähenkilön subjektiivisesta näkökulmasta katsottuna, on lopputulos vain korni ja epämiellyttävä.
Periaatteen vuoksi haluan antaa käännöksistä palautetta vain silloin, kun ne ovat hyviä. Lähes aina hyvä käännös on niin huomaamaton, että palautetta saavat lähtökohtaisesti aina vain huonot käännökset. Tämän sarjakuvan käännös vain oli niin kamala, etten voi jättää sitä huomiotta. Kääntäjä on tavoitellut puhekielisyyttä hyvin sekavalla käännösstrategialla. Loppuheitto muutoin täysin kirjakielisessä lauseessa, peräkkäisiä virvkkeissä vaihtelu mä-minä ja kaikkien muidenkin keinojen hyvin satunnainen viljely. Dialogi on rekisterin vaihtelun sekamelska ja sen lukeminen teki pahaa.
Tämä oli kaikin puolin niin huono, että jopa se lyhyt aika, jonka tähän käytin, meni täysin hukkaan.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
This is a story about an emotional maladjust making everyone around him miserable for no reason. I know Chester Brown also wrote a book called Paying For It about his experiences using prostitutes, which I really wanna read now, because it makes sense why someone this emotionally crippled would not only have to resort to prostitution, but would fail to understand or empathise with how it is inherently degrading and damaging for women to have to rent their body out as a cum bucket for money. In I Never Liked You, you are generally presented with a picture of a guy who thinks of himself as 'a nice guy' who is his own worst enemy. He seems at times utterly paralysed with his own emotional dislocation, which seems to just cement more and more as he grows up, into this emotionally dead, permanently closed-off teenager. However, he still seems to see himself as the main victim of this, despite how much this negatively impacts on the people around him. He's horrible to his mother, whose greatest fault is that she doesn't like swearing, and is self-conscious about getting older and unattractive. She begs him to tell her he loves her. Which he won't do. And never does. Then she goes mad and dies. How sad for him.
This self-indulgent narcissism sits at the centre of the story, with the rest of the plot anchored to it, swirling around it like a plug. It is the story of how this guy is the victim of his own life, like only comfortably middle-class, white men can be. While he seems to have at least the awareness that he breaks the heart of the girl next door, and messes around a girl he claims to love, and acts badly towards his mother, he still very much sees himself as the main sufferer in all these interactions. He likes to repeatedly point out he was teased for not swearing, and that he wasn't the most popular boy in class. Boo hoo. Break out the violins.
As I say, there seems to be an awareness, but the tone of the whole book is of someone emotionally looking back on their adolescence being emotionally dead, so you never really get a real sense of resonance of these sometimes huge emotional blows, like the death of his mother. The recounting is as lifeless as the events themselves seem to feel.
This is story of a deeply emotionally cut off man, played like one flat tonal drone. I would recommend you avoid.
There is legitimately too much going on in here. It's a stupidly quick read, as a graphic novel, but I was angry at it every step of the way. Sure, there was the normal anger of watching the shy teenager who has actually overcome his shyness to declare his love for the woman he loves, but still won't act on it (you did the hardest part! Why not seal the deal?), but we are treated to what feels like every major event in this man's teenage years in the course of these panels. Of course, lots of these panels are taken up with immaterial stuff. Chester does not swear, for some reason. We are not sure why, but people sure to bug him about it! Also, Chester loves Saltines. This is probably something that has been written about in some theoretical circle, but as a reader it just seems arbitrary. Even without all these asides (and yes, you wouldn't think so, but the saltines are prominent enough to qualify), there's still the fact that Chester is hard to like. He's sullen and silent and not super clear about why. He doesn't express emotions. He has enough women seeming to be interested in him that his love problems feel like he's whining for the sake of it. And to top this off, the illustrations aren't particularly good either. That almost seems like an unnecessary gripe, but come now, how many panels of massive head with angular chin on stick figure-with-clothing body are we supposed to endure?
I was not a big fan of this. I am a little surprised at how many five star ratings there are and the synopsis says this is considered "one of the best graphic novels published in recent years."
After reading this, especially the written portion at the end, all I can surmise is that the author must think very highly of himself. Small moments from his childhood are supposed to be so profound. I'll excuse his relationship with his mother because that was quite interesting and complex, but the majority of the dialogue was so contrived. And the artist came off as so rude to everyone around him. I am, and was, extremely introverted but I still treat others kindly. It went beyond just not being able to interact with others; he was cold and rude to others.
Also it was a bit ridiculous how every single girl in the novel had a crush on the author. Even his own mother commented on his looks and I was beginning to wonder if this was how he remember his childhood or if it was more wishful thinking on his part? I mean, every single girl had a crush on him. It was a bit ridiculous.
I did enjoy the drawing style though. It had a 70’s dream-like quality to it that I think fit very well with the story. This is why the book was given 2 stars instead of 1, as the style is just as important as the plot in a graphic novel for me. Beyond that though the entire thing was quite dull.
Comics seem to be the perfect medium for the genre to which 'I Never Liked You Belongs': wistful while brutally frank confessional autobiographies that delve into the awkwardness and painfulness of childhood. 'Stitches' by David Small, striking and innovative, really made its mark here very recently, but others come to mind: Craig Thompson's 'Blankets,' Leland Myrick's 'Missouri Boy,' David Heatley's 'My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down,' Debbie Drechsler's 'Summer of Love,' Alison Bechdel's 'Fun Home.' 'I Never Liked You' would be a worthy addition to a library of such works. Brown's panels, usually just a few on a page, are simplified and often isolated in white space, and give the work, which recounts his elementary through high school years in a Montreal suburb, an appropriately lonely feel. Like Small, Brown grew up with a mentally ill mother, and he captures the oddness of that relationship. 'I Never Liked You' didn't grab me the way 'Stitches' did, though. For my money, Chester Brown's amazing historical bio of Louis Riel is better.
Chester Brown se pinta como un adolescente muy peculiar: solitario y muy reservado. Dos cosas son curiosas. Una: el poder de decisión que tenía Chester al decir "No" cuando sus compañeros los presionaban para que dijera "Sí". Me agradó. Dos: Cómo es que todas las niñas se le acercaban a él y lo querían y Chester se recluía en si mismo. Se me hacía especial y a la vez no entendía del todo cómo el personaje protagonista(Chester) era incapaz de decir lo que sentía en situaciones importantes como decirle a su mamá que la amaba, cuando, en efecto, lo sentía. Aunque bueno, una idea(mía) que se cruza ahorita y tiene mucho que ver: que emitas unas simples palabras no significa expresar eso que dices, sino que lo demuestres y se vea que, en efecto, es cierto. Y para terminar, la manera de dividir las páginas y viñetas es en "pequeñas partes": un tanto diferente, no innovador pero sí bueno, interesante.
Con este libro medio como que me auto sugestioné con que me iba a encontrar con la historia del primer amor del artista y terminé leyendo una sucesión de pequeños fracasos y frustraciones (la mayoría, por culpa del mismísimo autor-protagonista) que derivaron en que en todo el tomo lo máximo que lograra fuera tocar una teta por accidente. Salvando las distancias, me hizo acordar a Ichitaka Seto de I"s, por cómo él mismo se serruchaba el piso en cada ocasión. Igual, leyéndolo la pasé bastante bien, así que llega a las tres estrellitas aunque haya terminado con ganas de sopapear al protagonista-autor.
Delightful and different slice of young life about a shy boy who eats a lot of crackers, refuses to swear, and struggles with intimacy and relationships. The art is weird and wonderful--featuring alien sized heads and painfully thin bodies. As with Fun Home, I enjoyed the 70's flavor: KISS, David Bowie, Kung Fu, and Charlie's Angels. This is subtle and deceptively insightful. Good stuff. I want more.