Saturday, January 26, 2013

Blogathon 10: West Coast Blues by Jacques Tardi (Part 2)

Ales didn't bring me around entirely, but he has certainly given me a lot to think about with regard to West Coast Blues. My first instinct is never to go to philosophy. When I was doing my Master's in English, I was one of the few that stuck to close readings and ignoring theory. I'm from the school of New Criticism -- but have a deep appreciation for what others who don't share that view can shed light on for me.

Gerfaut's inner void is something that I had a sense of while reading West Coast Blues, but hadn't fully considered. Similarly with the contrast between inner disharmony and the specifics of the narration. So much time is spent in the narration on the physical objects. The things that are real and easy to pin down. "Just the facts, ma'am" as it were. There's an accumulation of items, of physical objects, that points to that sense of greater wealth creating a loss inside. These are people surrounded by objects and things -- and none seem satisfied. His kids demanding a TV is a lovely little moment. He doesn't quite understand, but their world has become one that isn't real but contained within this physical box that shows pictures. What does it mean -- what does it offer? He wonders that out loud at one point (in different words) and there's no answer.

Gerfaut is never satisfied. He gets lost in moments, but there's never any lasting peace beyond the beginning and end of this book as he's driving, on the move, not stationary. Is he satisfied then? I don't know. Certainly the substances he's taken help create a sense of happiness... but it's one that won't last. It's temporary. Maybe that's all he can strive for anymore. Maybe that's all there is.

There's a mirroring between Gerfaut and my experience of reading West Coast Blues. That getting lost in small moments, but ultimately finding no satisfaction. I wonder if I should appreciate that. That effect cannot be coincidental and I should, perhaps, embrace it. Is that the joy and wonder of this book?

* Okay, Melville did an adaption of this novel, too? I need to see that. I'm interested to see how it works against the graphic novel. Hell, I guess I should be curious about the original novel as well...

* I love the 'falling out of the train' sequence and the attempted murder sequence. Those are two moments where Tardi slows it down and relaxes. Totally at odds with the fierce intensity of what's happening. Hmm.

* I can't say I like this book yet in an entertainment sense, but I definitely appreciate it. Thanks, Ales.

In 30 minutes, I'll talk about my favourite Peter David Star Trek novel.

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