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Cannonball

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  586 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Kelsey Wroten’s Cannonball fires the reader straight into the messy life of Caroline Bertram: aspiring writer, queer, art school graduate, near alcoholic, and self proclaimed tortured genius. Wroten tells the story of an artist struggling with the arrival of adulthood and the Sisyphean task of artistic fulfillment. Stunningly drawn in a classic style, with big truths and b ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 23rd 2019 by Uncivilized Books
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Average rating 3.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  586 ratings  ·  106 reviews


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David Schaafsma
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
“I have a sort of axe to grind with representation. I won’t write a comic without queer characters. After I began living on my own, I found a group of other lesbian and queer-identifying people who became a second family to me. When I needed help with life, those were the people I went to”--Kelsey Wroten in interview with VICE

Kelsey Wroten’s graphic novel Cannonball is an at turns exhilarating and exasperating depiction of Caroline Bertram, a queer art school graduate in her early twenties who b
...more
Lauren Salisbury
Jun 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
Yes, Caroline is unlikeable. It's not her unlikeability that makes this book a slog for me though. None of the characters are likeable. None of the dialogue, situations, or plot progressions feel realistic. The narrative felt like a vehicle for Caroline's countless monologues about selling out, what qualifies as "real art", and why her struggle makes her more authentic. She's unlikeable, but she also feels two-dimensional. She feels like a caricature of a hipster, art school millennial. Her pare ...more
Jayden
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I gave this an extra star because I loved the artwork, but as much as I wanted to like the story, I just couldn't. The protagonist is simply unlikeable. She is selfish, egotistical, and takes her anger out on others and does not seem to make any sort of progress at all throughout the story. To the author's credit, I get that this is the point of the "tortured artist" character, and the character herself is constantly struggling with her self-image, part of her does know she is an asshole. For me ...more
Sarah
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
This just made me feel so tired and old.
Emily
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-harder-2019
3.5 stars.

Caroline, the protagonist of this graphic novel, is a really frustrated and angry person, one that I didn't necessarily like. She is a queer, semi-alcoholic, recent art school graduate who is trying to get published while also maintaining her integrity as an artist, i.e. not "selling out." On one hand, I deeply understood her and felt bad for the injustices she deals with in the story (don't get me started on her dad), but on the other, I wanted to yell at her to stop being a dick to h
...more
Hannah Garden
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
An argument I find myself regularly chasing the tail of is the one around the method of determining value. Goodness or badness. Amazingness or suckiness. Tattoo this across my breast or don't wipe my ass with it. I read a book and I hate it and say it's bad, or love it and say it's amazing, and where do I get off. How does my response to a piece of art reflect and honor my belief about what art is, and from whence did I derive that belief and am I interrogating it.

While in the context of art th
...more
J.T.
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dang, I finished this a couple weeks ago and forgot to immediately write a review. Therefore, I've forgotten specifics.

I can say that the overall impression that I remember was fantastic. I really like the artwork (that's what inspired me to buy it in the first place, as I've never read anything else by Kelsey Wroten). The protagonist is young and largely uninspired by much, aside from writing. Sometimes her motives in writing are not exactly pure (fueled by jealousy or a desire to be recognize
...more
Stewart Tame
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cannonball is the story of Caroline Bertram, fresh out of art school, and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life. She wants to be a writer, but is her own worst critic ...

I was going to continue with something like, “How can you experience happiness if your first instinct is to push it away?” but that's not really accurate. Caroline experiences her share of happiness, but only when she's not focused on second guessing every thought that pops into her head. It's complicated.

Nee
...more
Nicole
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia, 2019
Upsettingly relatable.
Katie Richards
If you suffer from imposter syndrome, this book will resonate with you but not provide any solution or uplifting resolution. The takeaway, I've found, is alcoholism is not a viable solution (duh), depression and anxiety can sometimes behave as vices of self-absorption, celebrating your success and that of others is a much happier and positive way to conduct your life, justifying your own self-hatred and shoving it down others' throats so that they "understand you" is divisive and self-indulgent, ...more
Villain E
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
As an art school grad whose art career never really went anywhere, the first half of this book resonated with me. Caroline is a fresh-out-of-college writer trying to get her career off the ground. Her friends are settling for office jobs and her parents are trying to get her to do the same. Caroline is trying to figure her stuff out, but nothing feels right. A lot of people are driven to art because they can't express themselves in more conventional ways. Caroline is angry and disaffected gets f ...more
Jennifer Sundt
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
I loved the art, I loved the queerness, but I didn't care for the main character. The end doesn't particularly leave her anywhere memorable either - there's a crest and then she coasts, and coasts and coasts, and I don't feel that I have learned anything or gained anything from continuing to witness this. Would read more of the author's works, I just sort of feel like I've wasted my time here though on a certain level.
Dakota Morgan
Aug 09, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm conflicted about Cannonball.

Pros:
- The art is absorbing and unique.
- The characters are vibrant, if often terrible, much like watching a car crash.
- Thought-provoking conversations abound.
- The second half of the book smartly escalates the plot, forcing the main character into a confrontation with her greatest fears.
- Despite my reservations listed below, I couldn't put the book down.

Cons:
- The main character is a garbage human, so it's difficult to root for her in any way.
- The book is abou
...more
Danielle
This took a little bit for me to fully get into, but once I did, I was sucked in. This reminded me a lot of Ghost World in that the protagonist is so unlikeable, but she's written in such a great way. This is about pretentiousness and imposter syndrome and being less than a year out of college, I related way more than I'd care to admit. The story and its characters are so messy, but it's so refreshing to see something so honest. ...more
Blane
Jun 06, 2019 rated it did not like it
The good: Wroten does a fantastic job of capturing the confusion and ennui of post-college life. The artwork was excellent.

The bad: Wroten's protagonist ,Caroline, though relatable to many of us who have since moved on from that post-college period in our lives, is completely unlikable. She came across as a judgmental, obnoxious alcoholic spoiled brat with no consideration for anyone but herself. I kept hoping the story would go somewhere with Caroline's recognizing these character flaws in her
...more
Davina
Dec 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I found myself really absorbed by this story even though the main character was pretty terrible. I think Wroten illustrated well the conflicts around creating art that's both meaningful and profitable. I also really wish the YA story-within-a-story was real.
Maureen
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
Nice effort into the miserable queer / lesbian comic canon. (Bechdel, Mimi Pond, Hanselmann, etc) Funny, depressing, good comics.
Joel Adams
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
// excellent queer artist coming of age comic
Mark Schlatter
Aug 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: new_book_area, shreve
This was both a highly frustrating and a fascinating read. Our protagonist in this graphic novel is Caroline Bertram, a recent art school graduate who hates both those who sold out after graduation and those still pursuing an artistic career. She thinks of herself as a "tortured genius" and acts genuinely dickish to practically everybody, including her closest friends. She's convinced of her approach to life, but dismissive of everything she does and any suggestions anyone makes to her.

And, yet
...more
Trecia
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
The main character is such an unlikeable human and the book just feels like it goes on and on and then the end just stops. I also wasn't a huge fan of the art style for most of the book but it kind of grew on me by the end.
Caroline
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rod Brown
Jun 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
Oh, joy, another graphic novel about a bitter, tortured, and angsty art school student with a drinking problem. Can't have enough of those.

I hate dream sequences, but this book takes that hatred to a whole new level by having the main character wake up from her dream sequence, write down the dream, and then turn it into fantasy sequences from the novel-within-the-story that she is writing. And then that novel becomes successful, and we have to have to listen to other characters tell us how movin
...more
book rat
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I initially gave this four stars, but I can't get it out of my head so I'm bumping it up.

I thought this book was going to be about Being An Artist. Like, what your life looks like after college when you're adrift, trying to create something other people want to pay you for. You know -- the misery and the ecstasy etc. And it is about that.

It's just also about what happens when you create art other people want to buy, and you've proven everyone who ever told you to grow up and get a job wrong. Th
...more
Izzie
Jun 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: big-yikes
did not finish

Having enough familial stability and financial support to attend + graduate from an arts college, move out immediately after completing said degree, AND having your own one bedroom apartment? HONESTLY -- cannot relate.

Many reviews address the protagonist but in reality, none of the characters stood out to me. Frankly, I was equally annoyed at every character introduced. While the book seemed promising for queer representation, it really only repeated the narrative of "Look at me, I
...more
Nora
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
The redeeming part of this book for me was Caroline’s friends. I really liked Caroline’s friends and the sassy dialogue between Caroline and them.
However I do have some big problems with this book:
- I just don’t like the books about people making something else whether that be a movie, book, etc.
- Despite being a graphic novel, the illustrations didn’t really help the story. It might’ve worked better and actually made more sense as a novel.
- Caroline as a character doesn’t really grow throughout
...more
Lainy122
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel, lgbt
It's been a long time since I read something with such an unlikable protagonist. There were quite a few interesting points and ideas hidden in this book, but much like Caroline's life it wanders aimlessly with no real point other than to deliver toxic thoughts and hopeless despair.
Perhaps if I were more cynical, angst-ridden or angry at the world I may have enjoyed it more, but as it stands I think I might just return this one to the library.
Cy
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, lgbtq
messy (in a good way) and relatable (though u hate to admit it)
Melanie Page
Nov 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sjcpl, dnf
Some books are timely, in that they are published at totally the right moment. Dietland by Sarai Walker, for example, with its angry activists fed up with waiting to be treated like humans. Other books reflect a bygone time but still feel relevant, like Mimi Pond’s Over Easy, a smartly written look at 1970s youth culture. Then there are books that are walking on ground so trodden by previous works that the path is practically covered in road markers on how to go about things. Cannonball by Kelse ...more
Blue
Cannonball by Kelsey Wroten tells the story of an art school graduate, Caroline, who is growing up, slowly. Caroline goes through some of the seminal stages of new adulthood reserved for people who depend on their creativity to be someone to everyone else. She struggles to publish her stories. She gets jealous of other grad who make it. She has a pessimistic, yet stubborn attitude towards making it as a writer. She collides with her father, who just wants her to get a real job. Then, when she do ...more
Kate Atherton
I loved this book more than I even anticipated. Yes it looks slick ; digitally drawn with a pleasing off-crayola crayon color palette, smooth lines, well designed and defined characters that blush or get red with anger in a beautiful salmon hue that envelopes the whole top half of their faces...but, I digress in getting so very specific. What a triumphant work from Kelsey Wroten ; Cannonball follows newly graduated, afraid of success and failure equally, writer Caroline as she navigates single l ...more
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