Ciara's Reviews > French Milk

French Milk by Lucy Knisley
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's review
Feb 17, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: autobio-memoir, graphic-novels, read-in-2009
Recommended for: comic diarists, people going to france soon, lucy's friends
Read in February, 2009

for some reason, i was really obsessed with finding this book & reading it, even though i am not a huge fan of graphic books or books where spoiled 22-year-olds go to paris & spend half their time there crying because they miss their boyfriends or are worried about their finances. i think i liked the idea of the book more than i liked the execution, even though i knew on some level that of course the idea was bound to be better than the execution. but i put a hold on it at the library anyway, & when i finally sat down to read it, i blazed through in an hour or two.

the whole thing is about six weeks that lucy spends living in paris with her mom. they are staying in a little apartment where they share a bed & they spend all day strolling around paris, eating lots of food, going to art museums, & shopping. honestly, it doesn't sound like a bad way to spend six weeks. i gather from context that the trip is an xmas gift from her parents to lucy, & that maybe her mom is thinking of getting an apartment in paris & living there part-time. so you can discern that these people are loaded. not a bad gig if you can get it, i guess, but i definitely failed to relate, which probably sucked some of the pleasure out of the book for me.

lucy turns 22 while she is in paris, & spends all day moping about being old. HA HA HA! all 22-year-olds thing they are old. & just a few years later, they are horrified & embarrassed that they ever thought such a thing. but that knowledge failed to make lucy's angst any more tolerable. she also kept dropping little asides about all her great france-related literary loves, such as oscar wilde, anais nin, & david sedaris. oh yes, how very obscure. she must be the most sophisticated 22-year-old art student the world has ever seen, to be aware of these luminary lights of the literary establishment! oh wait. these are the same peeps that every slack-jawed 22-year-old art student with pretensions of relevancy idolize. i am always so embarrassed for people when they make a big fuss about their obscure interests, & it turns out that their interests are neither obscure nor interesting. moving on...

probably my greatest disappointment is that the art didn't even do much for me. it was very derivative of lynda barry & tintin, with an occasional splash of julie doucet, but not any of the doucet trademarks that actually make julie doucet's work interesting. lucy is a better artist than i am, so i'm not going to cast too many stones here, but considering that this was a fully-illustrated diary documenting a trip to one of the most visually sumptuous cities in the world...i was a little bummed with the end result, i will admit. i'm sure she can knock a nice detailed architectural drawing out of the park when she really wants to--there were hints of serious talent in here. but because it was essentially a diary, there was a dashed-off thrown-together quality to the art that didn't do much for me.

oh, & also. the book opens with this whole song & dance about how lucy wants to explore the manner in which the french appreciate life, & she wants to explore her changing relationship with her mom...was that an intro for a different book? because neither of those things happens here. unless maybe she & her mom have never shopped together before or something. i don't know.
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