My blood pressure goes up when I see the word “memoir.”  For me, this word usually sparks images of people who are self-centered and not quite famous enough for anyone else to have written about them, but they feel they have  SO much wisdom to give the world that they just can’t resist writing a book about themselves.  If their lives had more meaningful content, it would be called an autobiography, not a memoir.

All cynicism aside, I did enjoy this book. Brunetti is an Italian-American cartoonist, who is largely known for his contributions to The New Yorker magazine. Since he is an artist, the book is predominately made up of samples of his work, with bits of explanation here and there as to why he drew something and what his mindset was at the time.  Part of me wants to say that it’s more of an art collection than a memoir, but his art truly does tell a story about his own life. He didn’t grow up taking art classes, and he lacks some of the “otherworldly” quality that many artists put on in order to seem important.  That was quite a relief to recognize.  Rather than a egotistical self-therapy session, this book is a narrative on the reality of art as a act of persistence over confidence. His simple honesty about dealing with depression and his loss of eyesight is refreshing and really drew me in.

It’s not necessarily something I would read twice, and it’s certainly not for everyone, but I’m happy to say that now I will always recognize a Brunetti cartoon when I see one.

Rating = 3


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