A Matter of Life

A Matter of Life

4.0 1
by Jeffrey Brown
     
 

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After the acclaimed indie film Save the Date and the bestselling all-ages humor book Darth Vader and Son, graphic novelist Jeffrey Brown (Clumsy, Unlikely) returns to the autobiographical work that first made his reputation. In A Matter of Life, Jeffrey Brown draws upon memories of three generations of Brown men: himself, his minister father, and his

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Overview

After the acclaimed indie film Save the Date and the bestselling all-ages humor book Darth Vader and Son, graphic novelist Jeffrey Brown (Clumsy, Unlikely) returns to the autobiographical work that first made his reputation. In A Matter of Life, Jeffrey Brown draws upon memories of three generations of Brown men: himself, his minister father, and his preschooler son Oscar. Weaving through time, passing through the quiet suburbs and colorful cities of the midwest, their stories slowly assemble into a kaleidoscopic answer to the big questions: matters of life and death, family and faith, and the search for something beyond oneself.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Brown added to his growing rep last year with the bestselling Darth Vader and Son, and his newest title presents a more down-to-earth view of fatherhood, a theme that Brown clearly has deep feelings about. The book focuses on his relationships with his preschool son, and with his own father. By mixing the trials and tribulations of his own journey into fatherhood with his childhood memories of his dad, Brown draws loose parallels between the two and shows the greater insight he has been given concerning his own development. Faith and religion are major themes, with Brown questioning his Christian upbringing as he matures and discovers the gaps in his education. Brown's own father is a minister, making this a sensitive subject to tackle, and the story is intercut with his son's questioning of his grandparents' religion. With simple sketches and strong colors, this book is in the style of Brown's previous autobiographical books Clumsy and Small Things, and fans of his better-known books, like Cat Getting Out of a Bag, will find subtle and quiet insights into the realities of family life in place of humor. Darth Vader and Son was a top present for Father's Day last year, and the new book will likely offer a repeat performance. (July)
Children's Literature - Raina Sedore
What happens when the son of a minister does not believe in God? How does he relate to his father? How does he parent his own son? Jeffrey Brown is a well-known graphic novelist, and in this volume of his work, he takes on faith, family, and fatherhood. At first glance, Brown's illustration aesthetic looks relatively simple. His lines are never quite straight, his human figures are slightly lumpy, and his panel arrangement—though not completely uniform—stays relatively close to a twelve panel per page formula. His lettering is less polished than most, and his characters' facial expressions seem—at first—to show little nuance. When the reader digs in and actually reads the narrative, however, they will be rewarded by a rich and affecting story. Brown is still figuring out what it means to be a father—this much is clear. But the stories he tells of his journey up to this point are heart-breaking and heart-swelling slices of life. Brown talks about his childhood experiences, what it was like to "come out" as someone who had rejected his Christian upbringing, and anecdotes about the challenges of raising children. The stories are arranged roughly in chronological order, and—but for a few exceptions—the narrative flows smoothly. Brown's memoir will be essential for any adult graphic novel collection, and may find a place on shelves serving older teenagers as well. Reviewer: Raina Sedore
Kirkus Reviews
In this graphic memoir, a Midwestern preacher's son loses his faith and discovers art. Both the style and tone of this coming-of-age narrative sustain an engaging naïveté, even as the young son who is the author becomes a father himself, and the deceptively simple story encompasses three generations of male Browns, who may or may not discover the answers to life's biggest questions in church. The creatively prolific Brown (Funny Misshapen Body, 2009, etc.) has extended his talents into film, animation and broadcasting (on NPR's This American Life), and he also teaches comics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Yet there is nothing artistically flashy or academic in this understated, matter-of-fact memoir, which begins, in darkness leading to a glimmer of light (over six large panels): "When I was little, I believed in God. At least I think I did. At some point I realized that I didn't believe. And I hadn't in a long time. If ever. It doesn't mean I don't believe in something bigger than myself." Such an introduction leaves a lot of open space for interpretation, and the rest of the narrative, in panels not considerably larger than postage stamps, proceeds to fill in some of it, though by no means all. It's a story of church, camps and missions, then college, art, museums, sexual awakening and fatherhood, where a son might receive different answers than the father, who is the author, received from his own father. Brown dedicates the memoir to his father and son, and love for both permeates the pages, where epiphanies are small, revelations conventional, and neither the artist nor the challenges he faces ever seem larger than life. Intermittently engaging, but there are more questions than answers here.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781603092661
Publisher:
Top Shelf Productions
Publication date:
07/02/2013
Edition description:
Mature Readers (ages 16 and up)
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
1,346,891
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
16 Years

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