Mark Victor Young's Reviews > Essex County

Essex County by Jeff Lemire
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Mar 24, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: graphic-novels, pure-jonel-suggested-graphic-novels
Read from March 24 to 26, 2011

I saw some of the original, uncollected "Essex County" comics in the comic stores when they came out and I remember flipping through them from time to time but never really piquing enough interest to bring me to purchase them. Then I heard the collected graphic novel version had made it onto "Canada Reads" and I wondered what I had missed. Since reading the entire thing, I now understand that the effect of this work is slow, elegantly understated and cumulative, so it is hard to "get it" on a casual glance through a single storyline.

There is such melancholy, such dignity and a quiet joy in the little things in this work. So much love and regret, isolation and loneliness and longing for the traditions of the past. I love the artwork in the series. It says that the story is anything but "super," that you'll have to look and listen closely to these lines. I love the feeling of personal histories being present with us all the time and having their influence on the events of our lives even as they happen. The inability to escape the past is a comfort and a curse to these characters.

Lemire is very adept at allowing a moment to happen without dialogue, sometimes from behind a window, where we can't "hear" what's being said. The effect is haunting in that it allows for quietness and gravity in what are often mundane details in the characters' lives. The book is also wonderfully steeped in Canadiana--from hockey to rural farming life, from Leamington to Toronto, in the inevitable "eh?" after each sentence, through five generations of characters' lives, whose stories are sometimes told all at the same time.

A beautiful, heartbreaking work of graphic storytelling.
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03/24/2011 page 167
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