Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Hyperbole and a Half: unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem, and other things that happened

Hyperbole and a Half is a collection of stories, half published and half original, that combine elements of comics and blogging in a unique manner. The drawings are pretty raw but very expressive, and they only intensify these stories of childhood events, mental health struggles, and relationship issues. It is a very direct and powerful work, but also highly infused with humor. Probably the funniest bits have to do with a pair of dysfunctional and simple dogs. Here, for instance is "Simple Dog:"
But much of these tales, despite often uncomfortable and uproarious sections, deal with very real problems, most notably dealing with depression. These are some very candid and confessional comics, and they are brutally honest, more self-reporting than self-pitying. I felt that they gave great insight into personal struggles and helped me learn about what many people have to contend with.

Allie Brosh publishes her comics/essays on a blog where half of these (and more!) stories were originally published. It is a playful site full of links to more drawings and jokes not found in the book and well worth checking out.She talks more about her life and art in this interview.

All of the reviews I have read about this book have been positive. Jeff Provine called it "an excellent exploration of humanity, and added, "Brosh is hilarious, witty, and all around enjoyable." Publishers Weekly wrote that "Brosh is an evocative writer who bares her foibles and shortcomings, from childhood to her present life, with a lack of vanity and a sense of catharsis that is palpable." Kirkus Reviews summed it up as "Part graphic novel, part confessional, overall delightful."

This book version of Hyperbole and a Half was a #1 New York Times Bestseller published by Simon & Schuster, who has more info about it here. And in case it has not become clear, this is not a book for young children.

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