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Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by…
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Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth

by Chris Ware

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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Well... I must admit that I read this in one sitting, but I felt awful when I finished. Actually, I did while reading it too! It kept my attention, which is a positive in my opinion, but wow!, I just don't know what words to use to describe this book... ( )
  patsaintsfan | May 23, 2014 |
Well... I must admit that I read this in one sitting, but I felt awful when I finished. Actually, I did while reading it too! It kept my attention, which is a positive in my opinion, but wow!, I just don't know what words to use to describe this book... ( )
  patsaintsfan | May 23, 2014 |
I'm starting to get that the broken American family is really the Big Theme of a lot of contemporary, stylistically ambitious works by US authors. Chris Ware fits right in there with his logophiliac brothers Mark Danielewski and David Foster Wallace; even though his narrative experimentation is done in the sequential art form of the comic, it's just as challenging in some ways, but the lonely-man-as-product-of-the-loveless-home is the old wine in his new bottle. Ware is less scared of presenting pathos without smothering it in irony, which isn't to say that he doesn't use irony and pastiche, both visually and verbally, just as defensively as the other guys when he does employ it, which is still quite a lot. Another good thing about this book is that it understands how central race is to the great American social disaster, and does for race what does Alison Bechdel's Fun Home does for sexuality: show the repression and hypocrisy around it right at the center of the dysfunctional family. But Ware takes that back through the generations, which makes this a great social and historical novel as well. And at the end of it, you muse on how little time it took to go so deep, instead of wondering where your life went as you as plowed through page 974 of somebody else's great American novel. The story's my interest, but the art is crisp and clean and lovely in its precise depictions of unloveliness--that helps a lot. ( )
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
Thirty-six-year-old Jimmy Corrigan lives a quiet and rather depressing life, in which he has no friends or companions outside of his overbearing mother and in which he has no hobbies outside of work. He is afraid of his own shadow, as the saying goes, and is so socially inept that he can't answer simple direct questions. One day out of the blue, Jimmy is contacted by the father he hasn't seen since childhood and asked to go visit him, which he does. A large part of the book concerns the awkward meeting between Jimmy and his father, as well as other members of his paternal family that he never before knew. Meanwhile, the book also provides the story of Jimmy's grandfather, the first James Corrigan, as a young boy growing up with his abusive father, mirroring the awkwardness and loneliness of Jimmy's life.

Loneliness is indeed the overarching theme of the book and is described by the author at the end of the book as "the permanent state of being for all humans, despite any efforts to the contrary. Can be soothed or subdued in a variety of ways, viz., marriage, sexual intercourse, board games, literature, music, poetry, television, party hats, pastries, etc., but cannot be solved." The real tragedy for Jimmy is that, unlike his grandfather, he cannot seem to find any way to at least soothe or subdue his loneliness with any of the various activities the author suggests. While my expectation was that this book would speak in a meaningful way about loneliness as a universal theme, that was not what I got out of the bulk of it. Jimmy was beyond socially awkward to a level that was just painful, and I felt I could not connect with him as a result. By contrast, the grandfather's story as a young boy was much more compelling and the part of the book that really saved it for me. He at least made attempts to interact with his peers, but his awful father - as well as the cruelty of school children -help to prevent these friendships from blooming and I felt true pity for this poor young boy. Ware notes in the epilogue that Jimmy Corrigan was semi-autobiographical in terms of the estranged father-son story, but Jimmy never felt like a real person to me. When I read the grandfather's story though, I actually had to remind myself that this was not a true story because of how real it felt.

In terms of style, Ware employs a lot of stream-of-consciousness, revealing inner thoughts and worries as well as dream states. He leaves many of his illustrated panels wordless, or nearly wordless, allowing the reader to fill in the blanks and intuit what is going on in the characters' minds. I appreciate the way he plays with the comic book form to tell his story, using some creative and innovative art. His tongue-in-cheek humor is apparent in the book's covers, jackets, and epilogue but is sadly missing from the majority of the main narrative. However, while I can appreciate his technical skill, the book mainly left me cold and most of the time I didn't feel touched by the characters outside of Jimmy's grandfather. For that reason, I struggled a bit to get in to this book and I can't say that I would recommend it to others. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Nov 10, 2013 |
Very touching and presented in the utmost beautiful way. A book that I will cherish for some time. ( )
  WorldInColour | Oct 12, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Some will find Jimmy Corrigan slow and depressing; they will be wrong. It is thrilling, moving, profoundly sympathetic — and it is the most beautiful-looking book of the year.
 
In Ware's world, lost boys grow up (or fail to do so), turning into lost men. Grey waves of depression cascade endlessly down though lost generations. No feel- good endings here: what prevents the bleakness of Ware's vision from overwhelming the reader in a flood of cosmic pessimism is the sheer craftsmanship, imagination, inventiveness and compassion with which it is realised.
 
While so many similar projects are little more than strings of striking images, Jimmy Corrigan forces you to pause, flick back a few pages and read again, rewarding you with another insight, another overdue connection. It is a rare and uplifting example of an artistic vision pushed to the limits.
 
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DEDICATION (dĕd'ə-kā'shən) n. In this semi-autobiographical work of fiction, I fear I may have potentially impugned (at least, perhaps, in a careless, reader's comprehension of the book) some "real life" alter-egos, most notable of whom might be my mother, who, being thoughtful, intelligent, and supportive woman thus bears no resemblance whatsoever to the miserable wretch who dominates poor Jimmy. As such, this book is dedicated to her, especially as it is wholly characterized by her absence.
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Jimmy, come ON!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375404538, Hardcover)

This first book from Chicago author Chris Ware is a pleasantly-decorated view at a lonely and emotionally-impaired "everyman" (Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth), who is provided, at age 36, the opportunity to meet his father for the first time. An improvisatory romance which gingerly deports itself between 1890's Chicago and 1980's small town Michigan, the reader is helped along by thousands of colored illustrations and diagrams, which, when read rapidly in sequence, provide a convincing illusion of life and movement. The bulk of the work is supported by fold-out instructions, an index, paper cut-outs, and a brief apology, all of which concrete to form a rich portrait of a man stunted by a paralyzing fear of being disliked.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:30 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A graphic novel chronicles four generations of the Corrigan men, from 1893 to 1983.

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