October 30, 2009

Asterios Polyp

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

Pages: 344
First Published: Jul.7, 2009
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

mmm...oohh.. that's good...

Reason for Reading: Cybils nominee

Summary: The book opens with a man watching, presumably, a pornographic movie, when his building is hit by lightning and catches fire. Such is how we meet Asterios Polyp, 50 year old architect. He grabs a few trinkets and as he rushes out the door we see he has a room full of videos, each one marked with a consecutive day of the week which appear to go on for years back. Through a series of flashbacks we follow Asterios' past and present as with the cash he takes a bus to however far it will get him, ending up in a hick town where he gets a job as a mechanic and rents a room in the house of his boss.

Comments: The book is a study in self. It is hard for me to review this book critically as I have never studied philosophy and that is the main theme running through this book. The first thing to enter my mind was existentialism and after googling it, I found it fit the situation perfectly in my mind but I also so the opposite happening as well, so another google brought up the term nihilism. The amazing thing about this graphic novel is that the illustrations follow suit in a gripping display a graphic brilliance to fit the atmosphere of the pages.

For characters, the book is sparse. Asterios himself is self-centered and egotistical. His Asian wife is his opposite: warm, tender and loving. Otherwise the book contains a handful of eccentric characters, who while also being wrapped in their own self manage to do so without the know-it-all, "I'm always right", attitude of Asterios. My favourite character was the garage owner's wife, Ursula Major a buxom, large, pipe smoking, luxurious blonde woman who follows all the Pagan religions and thinks she is part Indian because she was a Shaman in a past life.

I haven't read anything by the author before so I didn't know what to expect and I must admit I thought it was quite weird to begin with but then things started making sense, I started understanding Asterios' character and I really enjoyed the book in the end. Speaking of the end, it's quite a shocker too.

I would especially recommend this book to anyone who knows a thing or two about philosophy. You'll get a whole lot more out of it than I did but nevertheless, I took what I could from it and was pleased with the read.

As to this being nominated for a Cybil. This is an adult book published for adults and I don't feel it should be considered for the award. The theme is adult, the grown-up characters are not appealing to teens and there are many nude scenes showing full frontal nudity down to the pubic hair on both sexes, along with sex scenes, which I do not consider appropriate for a non-adult audience.


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