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KLIATTAmerican Elf reminds me of a comic that I read in the late '80s called Life in Hell, an autobiographical strip by Matthew Groening (who went on to create The Simpsons) that featured talking rabbits pontificating on topics such as life, love, death and why everything sucks. James Kochalka, the author of American Elf, draws himself as an elf instead of a rabbit. He hit upon the idea of doing a daily journal in the form of a four-panel comic strip in 1998, and this book chronicles the results of five years of entries. During this time period we learn a great deal about Mr. Kochalka, his wife Amy, Spandy the Cat, the members of his band (James Kochalka Superstar), and Eli the wonder-baby. Some of the strips are funny, some are boring, some are touching, some are gross, and some look like the author was half-asleep when he wrote them (he probably was). Through it all, Kochalka draws, and after a while we don't want him to stop. It's not that he lives such a fascinating life; it's the fact that he keeps writing it down. American Elf is for collections that cater to older readers; it contains nudity, vulgarity (including the F-bomb) and toilet humor (literally). This is a fine choice for comic-literate high schoolers interested in memoir and/or the creative process. KLIATT Codes: A—Recommended for advanced students and adults. 2004, Top Shelf Productions, 496p. illus., Ages 17 to adult.