January 24, 2014

Best Graphic Novel of 2013 -- Charles Forsman's THE END OF THE FUCKING WORLD

The End of the Fucking World (TEOTFW)

(Charles Forsman; Fantagraphics)
TEOTFW will break you.
It's easy to conjure up sobs of false sentimentality when thinking about this book, but it's not in its heart one of those “look upon this horror” or “there but for the grace of God”. This is a bildungsroman of the narcissist, psychotic, detached. It is the psychic havoc of the perpetually doomed; the coming of age story of those striding forth into world where the connection between cause and effect is a spectator sport, where emotional content is gauged by “hits” and the chance to go viral.
The End of the Fucking World
TEOTFW is a dispassionate presentation of dispassionate times peopled with dispassionate individuals, and therein lies its passion. It's hard not to be moved by the immovable, as we are humans and, as much as we would prefer otherwise, we care.
It's a love story between a young girl who loves too much and a young boy who can't love at all. It is an indictment as much as an embrace. Remember Romeo's conception of unrequited love? “O brawling love! O loving hate! O anything of nothing first create!” Forsman uses the Petrarchan conceit covertly to examine our ultimate longing to be part of something outside of ourselves.
And it will break you.

The End of the Fucking World
Through narrative tricks of dueling perspectives and his clean, minimalist lines, Forsman muffles his hard screaming and, in so doing, makes you lean in to hear what he is saying. In a world of gray areas, what is brought forth when you communicate in the clarity of black and white? There's a morality at work in this book, but you have to confront your own conceptions first before you can take on this message.
In the wake of the work of Adam Lanza and Anders Breivik and James Holmes, The End of the Fucking World serves as the beginning of a larger discussion. Where is the break? What is the justice? How can we understand? Forsman has no answers, really, but in the calmness that effuses these pages, he allows us to be in a moment – there – and through this act of text reading the reader, comprehension of self and selves unfolds.
And it will break you.
Then, once broken, you can reform by examining the edges of every piece before deciding what the whole will finally reveal. TEOTFW's power lies in what comes next, as much as it does in what we have already been through.

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