One of the books I’d bought at Powell’s last night was Panther by Brecht Evens. It is a gorgeously illustrated work–a piece of fiction, to be sure. A comic? A graphic tale? Anyway, it starts out as a lovely, if sad story about a little girl with an imaginary friend (a panther who crawls out of her dresser drawer) but it slowly, creepily, changes into a dark, scary story. I hate to spoil it, so I’ll try to leave it at that.
While I was reading it, though, M was watching that Black Mirror episode with the pig on his iPad in bed. Either you know it, or you don’t want to know it. I could hear it happening next to me, as the book got creepy. Once the show was at its near-climax, I was so grossed out by what I could hear of it that I sort of flounced away, not wanting to hear or see out of the corner of my eye, whatever happened next, while simultaneously needing to see what happened next in the book.
The result was that I was so genuinely ill at ease when I was done, that I started googling the book and artist, wondering how in the fuck it ever got on my wish list in the first place–I found no clue. But I did read one interview with the author, which (the hour being late) I read into deeply, and then I was so disturbed, I decided that I’d sleep on it, but probably take the book back to Powell’s.
This morning, I thought about why the book’s subject matter made me uncomfortable (totally reasonable reasons), but then about why that made me not want it around. It is beautifully painted. There are some interesting craft elements in the design and in the story, the way it manages to build from cute/fun to horrorshow very slowly, so that you wonder at first if you are over-reacting to harmless–nope, nope you aren’t. I used to love Stephen King books, and then one summer, I read one, and that was it, I was done reading scary stories that mixed sex and monsters–which is something every single King book does at one point. (Okay, so that’s a tiny spoiler.) Anyway. Today, I read two more interviews with the author, and they were not ominous, as the one seemed last night. Many people consider what the book does to be very artful and scary.
It made me think about how much of my revulsion was a product of the show in the background, current terrible events, the collective trauma of reliving so much terribleness over social media and the news over the last year. Time’s is tough for the tenderhearted! I can’t slam around in a mosh pit like I used to and getting scared is less fun, it seems.
But how amazing that a book can do that. Words and ink on the page.
Speaking of, that’s what I’ll be spending the weekend doing–creating my own words on the page (in addition to grading). And then, next week, I’ll shift gears here from the pedagogical to the kinesiological, which is probably a great idea. I gotta spend more time out of this head.