Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Be a Nose by Art Spiegelman (a review)

Be a Nose!: Three Sketchbooks
3 out of 5: Art Spiegelman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Maus, presents this 3-volume reproduction of his private sketchbooks. The first volume is the small notebook Spiegelman took to the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1979. It's quite small and filled with black and white drawings. The second volume, dated 2007, is more substantive than the first, but my favorite is the third volume from 1983. Containing more detail and more color than the other two, the third volume is the most interesting to flip through.

Since there's no narrative and very few related images in these sketchbooks, they're best appreciated in small doses. The imagery is interesting but lacks the supporting substance found in Spiegelman's longer works. By far the best thing about these sketchbooks is their clever design. McSweeney's did a beautiful job publishing this "book," which consists of three volumes of different sizes, types, and textures. These really do look like real sketchbooks. If you leave them lying around the house, visitors will mistake you for the artsy type.

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