Monday, August 15, 2016

Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life

So, Like I wrote earlier, I signed up for Comixology Unlimited. I have been diving into a few books lately, seeing what is offered and if the service is worth my while. Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life was a title offered by one of my favorite publishers, and although I had not heard of the book (despite it being a multiple award winner-Where have I been?), it sounded intriguing and I thought I would give it a shot. It turns out that this chance reading ended up ending up being pretty lengthy, almost 500 pages of comics(!).

As it turns out, I was entirely enthralled by this book and I took it down in a few sittings. It was utterly compelling, raw, suspenseful, and revelatory. The narrative focused on a young Austrian woman who was into punk rock and decided to go on a trek with some friends in the summer of 1984. These women take off in search of a good time, and in turn they have many adventures, party, face the menace of sexual violence, and try to scrounge up money or food. They take part in many illegal activities and run afoul of displaced artists, pimps, wanna-be pimps, and organized crime.
The story is sort of nostalgic, but not sickeningly sweet or overly romanticized. I thought that the characters were very well defined, and the drama of all these situations was quite powerful and moving. I am very glad I took the time to explore this service and find this gem of a book.

This book's creator and main character is Ulli Lust, winner of an Ignatz and an Eisner Award nominee. I love her rough-edged artwork and masterful storytelling as well as the limited color palate that lend the proceedings a grungy authenticity. She speaks extensively about her life and career in this interview.

All of the reviews I have read about this book have been very positive. Robert Kirby opined that this book is so successful because Lust had so much time to reflect on these events, and he wrote, "She captures perfectly and without judgment the complex social, cultural, and personal maelstrom she willingly entered into that summer, offering readers a wonderfully vicarious thrill in the process." Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and wrote, "Her recollections willfully expose the dark side of an anarchic lifestyle, yet are void of any didactic embellishment, and instead form a genuine and nonjudgmental look at aimless youth and rebellion." Eddie Campbell likened it to "a person who came to stay and I didn’t realize how much I was enjoying their company until after they’d left."

Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life was published in the US by Fantagraphics Books, and they have a preview and more available here. If it is not clear by now, this is not a book for children.

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