Exposure and Decision: I’ve heard of Allie Brosh’s blog for a long time, and I’ve seen memes around all over the place with her drawings. For some reason, I just sort of passed over them. I didn’t dislike them or anything, don’t get me wrong, but I also never felt any compulsion to look up the blog or read this book. I guess it’s one of those right-time-right-place things, because I recently happened to pass the book at my local library, and all of a sudden, I thought hey, I should check this out. So I did. And then I brought it home to read.
The Graphic Novel: Hyperbole and a Half is a collection of somewhat-exaggerated autobiographical short stories involving dogs, cake, oral surgery, geese, depression, pine cones, and other sundry things. Much of it is hysterically funny. Some of it is very poignant through, or in lieu of, the humor. I very rarely enjoy graphic novels, but I liked this one a lot. A couple times, I worried that I was going to run into visual evidence of a particular personal phobia (below), but I was (mostly) spared.
Phobia: I hate vomit. Like, I really, really hate vomit. As in, if I start reading a book, and that book begins with a scene where someone, say, gets drunk and starts throwing up everywhere, I stop reading that book. Period. I don’t watch movies that involve vomit. I literally make sure my movies are pre-screened for puking before I agree to watch them. I mute out the scenes and cover my eyes when I watch reruns of NCIS that include anything even close to puking. I wish books/TV shows/movies had vomit trigger warnings. I will not go into the story of why this has become a phobia, one that hasn’t abated despite having three children and a cat with digestive issues. I will, however, say that I generally avoid books that touch on this particular phobia, and graphic novels are particularly aversion-worthy (you know, SEEING instead of READING about the phobia). And while Hyperbole discussed vomit a few times, and had one tactful picture of dog-in-the-act, it wasn’t that bad. The author did not glory in the discussion/drawing. So I was able to keep reading. Thank you for that, Ms. Brosh.
Pets: I don’t have dogs, but I do have a cat, and I practically grew up in a menagerie. (No kidding. At one time, we had thirteen pets in the house, including cats, dogs, fish, a cockatoo, a rabbit, guinea pigs, gerbils, and a hedgehog.) I’ve experienced all sorts of smart pets and stupid pets. And I’ve experienced the gamut of pet-tricks. Probably my favorite story in this graphic novel was “Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving,” which, ironically, is the aforementioned dog-in-the-act story. Why was this my favorite? Well, because our family cat, Ash, has an aversion to wearing anything on his body. A year ago, when we were preparing to move across the country, we tried to put a harness-leash on him so that we could make sure he didn’t get away if he made a break for it mid-journey. With the first harness we tried, he simply flopped on the floor and refused to move except by flopping (exactly like one of the dogs in the story). With the second, he stood there and refused to move, as if his legs didn’t work (exactly like the other dog in the story), and when we tried to pull him by the leash, he gave up and just made us drag him. (Notably, we eventually just bought a large metal cage to confine him in for the trip, and he was the most patient and amiable cat for all three days of driving…)
Sharing: My boys are 14, almost-13, and 11. They’ve had plenty of exposure to the saltier parts of language, and a healthy dose of cynical humor in their lives. I’ve shown each of them at least one story in this book. They have all been extremely tickled. My oldest son stole the library book from me so that he could read it before I’d even had a chance to write up this review.
About the Corn: There’s little possibility the author will actually see this review, but just in case: I totally, totally understand about the corn. Really.
PS: Go read the book!