Jacki's Reviews > The Photographer

The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert
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's review
Jul 18, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: graphic-novel-manga

The brilliant concept (graphic novel meets photojournalism)is worthy of a glance, but ultimately this book disappoints in other vital areas.

I had to laugh when a character in the book said he pitied children learning to read in Afghanistan because the Qu'ran had such little print on such big pages, because that was my exact complaint about "The Photographer." A magnifying glass is needed for the tiny print and minuscule photographs. Perhaps color photos the same size would have been more easily visible, but the black and white low-contrast landscapes fail to pop. Neither do the interspersed comic-style drawings provide any appeal; they are merely khaki-and-olive line drawings. I suppose this style was chosen so the drawings wouldn't upstage the photos.

The story fails on many levels, as well. The narrative is cold and dull, meandering through pointless details until halfway through the book. Part 2, in which the photographer actually makes rounds with the doctors and chronicles their work and the suffering of war-torn Afghanistan, shines with its graphic pictures of what war does to human life, and in this section, the photographer seems more human. However, he promptly erases any sympathy the reader might have built up for him by then deciding to continue to Pakistan alone, in a country at war, whose language he does not speak, where Russian helicopters are searching the landscape. By the end, I felt sorry for his horse, disgusted with him, and deeply frustrated that the project was not more heavily devoted to the work of the doctors, the real heroes.

I think the formatting decision was important, and I hope other authors will try similar projects. However, I felt the important aspects of the story were glossed over in favor of the photographer's self-focus, and I am very disappointed in this book.

Recommend to: People with strong stomachs, as this book has EXTREMELY graphic photos in places; anyone who needs to realize how good life in America really is
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