Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Asterios Polyp” as Want to Read:
Asterios Polyp
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Asterios Polyp

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  23,863 ratings  ·  1,544 reviews
The triumphant return of one of comics’ greatest talents, with an engrossing story of one man’s search for love, meaning, sanity, and perfect architectural proportions. An epic story long awaited, and well worth the wait.

Meet Asterios Polyp: middle-aged, meagerly successful architect and teacher, aesthete and womanizer, whose life is wholly upended when his New York City
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published July 7th 2009 by Pantheon
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 Asterios Polyp, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Asterios Polyp

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  23,863 ratings  ·  1,544 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Asterios Polyp
Nov 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Really beautiful, smart and heart-touching story of an architecture professor who, when he is 50, learns better.

It ought to be a five star review, but I kept feeling like the moment the whole thing came together it would be one of the best graphic novels anyone had ever done and one of the finest stories ever told... and it reached the end and left me feeling that had it all come together - perhaps had it been much longer - it would have been amazing, and as it was it was simply astonishingly g
Seth T.
Jul 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Seth by: the hive-mind
Reading Asterios Polyp is a daunting experience. Or maybe not so much the reading, which can be accomplished easily enough, but the being able to speak sensibly about it afterward. I feel kind of like how I did after finishing 2666 , only not quite so out of my depth. Like Bolaño, Mazzucchelli's work here displays a breadth and depth that overtly requires multiple readings in order find ground solid enough to speak with any authority about the book.

But since I've only read the book once, you
Jul 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Oriana by: Jimmy
book #9 for Jugs & Capes!

Also: this is my second review for CCLaP, and my first in a year-long series reviewing graphic novels. W00t!


This is the first in an essay series I'll be doing for CCLaP called "Jugs & Capes," where I look at graphic novels from a girl's point of view. I'm not going to say a "feminist" point of view, because I think that's a complicated word, one which any thinking woman has a complicated relationship with. And as I haven't got any kind of background in gender studies
David Schaafsma
One of a few genius books in graphic novels, one of the great ones. And improbably, about a logical, theoretical architect! To really appreciate this one, you may have to BE an artist, because much if the story is in form, color, design... so I am still learning, but it is done by a superhero artist, who for years has labored in the background (except he is also the Batman One guy)... who breaks out in his own brilliant direction... You know, you have this almost completely unlikeable character, ...more
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
"What if reality (as perceived) were simply an extention of the self? Wouldn't that color the way each individual experiences the world?That might explain why some people get along so effortlessly, while others don't. Although people do keep trying.Yet, despite such predisposition, maybe one person's construction of the world, could influence someone else's."

Don't we all, at some point or another, find ourselves stuck in a certain state? We make friendships, fall in love, communicate in diff
MJ Nicholls
Apr 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The first proper graphic novel I’ve read! This was such a beautiful and heartbreaking piece of work, it’ll be nigh on impossible to top it. It is rich in glorious meditation, comedy, irony and romance, weaving deep questions of binary opposites, architectural philosophy, life-the universe-and-everything around a dissolving relationship story. I don’t have the vocab or knowledge to comment on the artwork’s nuances, but the artist subtly conveys shifting moods, attitudes, histories, metaphors and ...more
Nov 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who think graphic novels are stupid; people who didn't like "Watchmen"
Recommended to Jimmy by: allen spetnagel
I might have to read this one again to catch all the subtleties of the story. What's amazing about this graphic novel is that it is jam-packed with ideas, but most of the ideas are embedded in the art itself, and not in the words (some of it is in words, but it's like a riff that plays along with the visuals). At the same time, all these ideas do not in any way make it a gooey-dense landscape to slodge through. The book is such a pleasure to read, filled with so many wide open panels, so much wh ...more
Tom LA
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Wow. Just finished in one reading session this magical work of art. Together with "Daytripper", this is my all time favorite graphic novel. I don't have much to say about it, as I don't think I have rationalized it much yet: visually, it's extremely creative and exciting. Rich with inventions and ideas.

The story reminded me of a Chinese saying: "Two thirds of what we see is behind our eyes", and a lot of this novel is about that crucial aspect of human existence.

I see this as a love story, and
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
ατζινάβωτο φέγι.
“But why must choices always lie along a linear spectrum with two poles instead of say among a sphere of possibilities”
James Payne
Jul 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comics
Pseudo-intellectual, middlebrow regurgitation of ostensibly interesting Wikipedia-culled dichotomies and philosophical conceptions, clunkily arranged into a narrative. I mean, I do not understand how this book received the praise it did. Bad, bad writing. One dimensional characterizations. I'm not sure what age group it was written for, surely not adults? It reminded me of Paul Krugman's sick burn, "Newt Gingrich is a stupid man's idea of what a smart person sounds like."
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
I so wish more graphic novelists did what Mazzucchelli did in this one. Rather than merely have the graphic element supplement the story, Asterios Polyp makes graphics a part of the theme, using it to highlight conflicts and characterize its protagonists.

Asterios Polyp is a critically respected and self-regarding "theoretical architect," meaning that he has created some prize-winning designs and plans--none of which has ever been built. The narrative structure is framed by the new more humble li
Lee Klein
Feb 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"Wah," I said aloud when finishing this. "God. Lovely. Really great," I also said. Unputdownably beautiful. A blatantly philosophical, simple love story. Vivid characters. Funny. Touching: in fact, it successfully revealed the presence of my heartstrings -- sentimental loon I am not, but I definitely felt something pull in the vicinity of my chest region toward the end. Sort of like Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth meets a way more formally sophisticated The Elegance of the Hedgehog, sp ...more
Marc Kozak
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've noticed that ever since I became single earlier this year, I can't stop talking about myself.

This is pretty unusual. I am a reasonably quiet person unless I'm around people I have known for a while, and usually listen more than speak. However, lately I've noticed myself sharing personal details in situations where it isn't warranted. Nothing super sexy or anything (you pervs), but details that could have easily been left out of the conversation. Or to be clearer - I've been entering persona
Apr 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
I finished this over a week ago and for some reason haven't felt like writing a review on it. Maybe cause it's a little hard to describe without making it sound common. One reviewer described this best as a 40-something year old man's coming of age story. I would have to agree that that is what Asterio's story is about. Asterios must take a deep look at what dissolved his marriage. Most people would probably find him to be a jerk, but I really liked Asterios. He's just a man with many flaws but ...more
Josh Friedlander
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
A lavish, heartfelt story of a shallow intellectual's spiritual crisis and reconciliation with his lost love. Some of the existentialism feels a bit meh, but the synthesis of the ideas and the art - for e.g. as everyone's world view is different, each character is drawn in unique style - makes this stand out as a graphic novel worthy of the title, curiously powerful and immersive.
Bob Fingerman
Jul 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
David Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp is quite a thing. A book that uses formalism in a way that is pleasing to the eye, buoyed by a story and characters pleasing to the mind (though I guess the art pleases both). Mazzucchelli has populated this book with a varied cast: narcissistic (and often insufferable) egomaniacs; a neglected beauty taken mostly for granted; a plain, hard-workin’ mechanic who drops many a Norm Crosbyesque malopropism and many more.

The art is an impressive mélange of approach
Jan 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is hovering between a 4 and a 5 for me right now.

Wow - really a sophisticated book. And can I just say that its so great to read a critiquely lauded graphic novel that is NOT a memoir. This was large in scope, nuanced in detail, and I think I need to read it again to grasp it all.

The art was unexpected, with a mix of styles that really worked well together. Totally recommended to all my comic and literary fiction reading friends alike.
Jan 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kogiopsis by: Jared and Steve Like Comics
This is a really excellent demonstration of the kind of depth in storytelling that a graphic novel format is capable of. I feel like graphic novels, as a form, are still kind of developing and becoming more and more accepted; their potential is still largely unexplored. Asterios Polyp has a really brilliant use of color and art style which greatly enhances the story that's being told. Each character is drawn a different way, with different dominant colors, different fonts for their speech, and a ...more
Sep 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
Artist/writer David Mazzucchelli has had one of the more twisted career paths of any artist I know. He began in conventional comics, becoming well-known illustrating Frank Miller's Daredevil, then he disappeared for awhile, emerging with an entirely new style. His new, fluid line was perfect for Miller's DC hit, Batman: Year One. Then Mazzucchelli dropped off the radar again. This time, he showed up illustrating a graphic novelization of Paul Auster's City of Glass: The Graphic Novel , a meta ...more
Jan 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Allow me to steal from Pete Holmes and say what would I have done if this book came out in the 90s, before we had "Really?!?"? When I got to the end, without that comfortable exclamation of frustrated disbelief, I would have had to raise my eyebrow so high that it might have flown off my head.

Mostly Asterios Polyp is an amazing book, fusing different artistic styles that, no matter how showy, always advance the narrative, and has a plot that, while not as bold as something like Jimmy Corrigan, i
This is the best graphic novel I've read in a long time. From the beginning scene-setting of Asterios' apartment with his Brewer chairs and whatnot ... man, I can't list all the things I loved about this book without basically just describing everything about it. The intertwined narrative threads with the slow reveal of the flashbacks; the beautiful characterisations (Hana's face shape under her hair, her outrageously large eyes and roundness totally expressing the character), all the clever-clo ...more
May 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
I know firsthand how obnoxious know-it-alls can be because I live with one (actually one & 1/2 at this point, as my son is currently in training) & I've certainly been one myself on many occasions. “Paper” architect Asterios Polyp is also a know-it-all. There’s a clear difference between just knowing something & knowing something to the exclusion of any other opinion & Asterios is firmly in the latter category. He doesn't really listen to his wife Hana because he assumes he's always right. She'd ...more
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I can now say that I've read Asterios Polyp, but I can't say that I've finished Asterios Polyp. This is the kind of book that has layers inside layers - like an onion inside of... a turducken. A turduckenion, if you will. I feel like you can't get a truly complete sense of the intricacies here without a second, third, fourth reading. Even skimming through after reading the final page, I picked up so much information, so much context that I initially missed.

I should say that for a large part of t
Jan 11, 2011 rated it liked it
After all the buildup and critical praise heaped on this book, my expectations were quite high. So it was something of a disappointment not to love this book. That said, I did read it rather quickly. And to its credit, the book presents an atypical protagonist for the graphic novel format. That is, a character who is not mired in outright depressing circumstances from dawn til dusk and who is articulate and socially functional. So the book is novel in this regard, or at least breaks off into a n ...more
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This graphic novel deserves a place on the shelf alongside Fun Home and Persepolis--a novel about an architect who has never built anything, but is reknown for his abstract constructions, who finds himself homeless, perhaps intentionally, and goes out in the world to lose himself. the story toggles between his past, his overweening egotism, his failed relationship to a woman and to his career, and his current state of vagabondage, when he finds work with a compassionate auto mechanic, and is tak ...more
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read this book about a year ago and have been holding off on the review part because I wanted to do the book justice.
Today I'm just admiting I'll never get around to it and regurgitating what I read at Powells which was something along the lines of "this is the graphic novel to give people that say they don't read graphic novels"
and I'll add that it's really gorgeous.
and I'll add that all the sketches reminded me of being a kid and watching my mom sketch.
and I'll add that if you should read i
Feb 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
i've had to stop myself from re-reading this again and again. so good. this isn't eye candy. it's eye crack. love how the story is framed--and narrated. start reading the first few pages. you get sucked right in.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have a feeling that ending was a metaphor for something, stupid me has some theories (it’s either a thing about seizing every moment you have and not letting your loved ones go or it’s a really original metaphor about fucking) but during the last half of the book — especially when the cat died, because I related to Hana’s story of the time she spent with the furball— I was a mess, just trying not to get my tears on my borrowed copy (I succeeded by the way). This was an amazing experience. High ...more
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comic-books
Inventive storytelling incorporating style and art, but the story itself and its characters are tired and done.

A friend once commented that writers are being told, "write what you know," so now we have an abundance of stories about middle-aged, pseudo-intellectual, white men unhappy in their marriage.

You should read Asterios Polyp for the way Mazzucchelli uses the art to tell a story. A character's identity is shown using unique font and speech bubbles, different from the other characters. Even
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Blankets
  • Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
  • Daytripper
  • Black Hole
  • A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories
  • Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
  • Habibi
  • Here
  • Ghost World
  • Wilson
  • Stitches
  • The Sculptor
  • The Underwater Welder
  • Comics and Sequential Art
  • Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
  • Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter
  • The Arrival
  • Essex County
See similar books…
David Mazzucchelli has been making comics his whole life. Known chiefly for his collaborations - with Frank Miller on seminal Batman and Daredevil stories, and with Paul Karasik on an adaptation of Paul Auster's novel, City of Glass - he began publishing his own stories in 1991 in his anthology magazine, Rubber Blanket. Since then his short comics have been published in books and magazines around ...more

News & Interviews

The must-read summer beach book is a kind of American tradition. The crash of the waves. The glare of the sun. The sand in the pages. Is t...
53 likes · 28 comments
“To live (as I understand it) is to exist within a conception of time.

But to remember is to vacate the very notion of time.

Every memory, no matter how remote its subject, takes place 'Now,' at the moment it's called to the mind.

The more something is recalled, the more the brain has a chance to refine the original experience.

Because every memory is a re-creation, not a playback.”
“How can we call death-about which we know nothing- the opposite of life, when we barely comprehend life itself?” 24 likes
More quotes…