Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thoughts on Tales from Outer Suburbia

I have a list of artists that I'd really like to work with someday. Maybe I'll write a graphic novel, or I'll be lucky enough to have a say in the cover art that gets done for my book. However it might happen, Shaun Tan is definitely on that list.

The Arrival, Tan's exquisite, and wordless, meditation on the immigrant experience, is one of the most extraordinary books that I've read, so I had high expectations for Tales from Outer Suburbia. I'm pleased to say that I wasn't disappointed. 

The illustrations are marvelous, of course. And the stories are, as well. Delightful bits of oddness that you wish would lie beneath the seeming normalcy of your neighborhood. Together, they mesh to make a book that is truly gorgeous, a reading experience that is well worth lingering over.

I like Tan best when there is a hint of poignance in his work, so my favorite pieces in the collection were the short story, "Undertow" and the poem, "Distant Rain," which in and of itself, makes the book worth buying.

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