Jokes of the Unconscious: A Graphic Novel

Overview

Heard the one about the dying father? In this savagely brilliant graphic novel by slam poet Daphne Gottlieb (Final Girl) and Hothead Paisan creator Diane DiMassa, a 19-year-old woman named Sasha loses her father to cancer and takes a job in the hospital where he had worked as a doctor. Moving from room to room with her clipboard of forms, Sasha encounters the insane, the suicidal, and the brave — then returns to her office to look up all her friends’ and enemies’ medical ...

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Overview

Heard the one about the dying father? In this savagely brilliant graphic novel by slam poet Daphne Gottlieb (Final Girl) and Hothead Paisan creator Diane DiMassa, a 19-year-old woman named Sasha loses her father to cancer and takes a job in the hospital where he had worked as a doctor. Moving from room to room with her clipboard of forms, Sasha encounters the insane, the suicidal, and the brave — then returns to her office to look up all her friends’ and enemies’ medical records.
Taking its title from Freud’s Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious, Gottlieb and DiMassa’s first collaboration is both moving and darkly funny. Where comedy meets chemo, where mirth meets mortality, Jokes and the Unconscious explores the murky terrain of grief — a shadowland of memory, sexual escape, and morbid snickering.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This excellent graphic novel is a collection of shorts that tells the story of a young woman working at a hospital insurance job which her physician father obtained for her before he died of cancer in that same hospital. Sasha is young, gay, opinionated and has a death-inflected sense of humor that's equal parts cringe and belly-laugh. Gottleib's protagonist tends to hilarity amid deep despondence and even the side characters have dimension and show serious attitude on the page. The art is a bit clumsy, but DiMassa's images Sasha straddling a crocodile to tell a joke, turning into a blank-eyed hermaphroditic space alien to show how numb she is or slipping a tiki idol a drag from her cigarette are so imaginative that it doesn't matter. The book includes adult content, including lesbian sex, but the nudity tends more toward old men in nursing homes exposing themselves by accident. The story scatters a bit at the end, but it's a sad yet deeply funny book that moves from gross to subtle in a heartbeat. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Gottlieb, a performance poet, and DiMassa, creator of the comic series Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist, join forces for this graphic novel about a young woman wrestling with both her father's death and her sexual identity. The first venture into graphic fiction for Gottlieb focuses on Sasha, a 19-year-old spending her summer as a clerk at the same hospital where her father worked as a doctor. In Sasha's eyes, it's a bleak and Fellini-esque milieu: There's a chain-smoking pregnant woman in the cafeteria; her supervisor is a mouthy woman with bad breath who's prone to belittle her; Dad's old colleagues dredge up the past; and the patients she encounters are either belligerent or sadly terminal. Glum stuff, but Gottlieb and DiMassa have a nicely tuned sense of gallows humor. The story (which takes its name from a book by Freud) is interspersed with lengthy stand-up jokes, told in one- or two-page breaks. Adding a little more light to the story is Jet, the raven-haired, overalls-wearing, skateboarding woman of Sasha's dreams, though their relationship moves haltingly-Sasha has her father's death and her neuroses about ex-boyfriends to work through, while Jet has a history of sexual abuse. It's wordy for a graphic novel-there's little room for images at all on some pages-and Gottlieb's prose can be overwritten and digressive. And though it is broken out into digestible five- or six-page vignettes (an encounter with a patient here, a drunken hookup with a boy there), making the story move along somewhat disjointedly, toward the end, there's so much chatter and varied plot points that the climax doesn't have the impact it could have had. DiMassa helps manage some of those problemswith nice metaphorical touches-she draws boys' arms morphing into tentacles, a stick of dynamite planted in a heart valve, a computer monitor transformed into a snake's head. Spirited and often funny, but maddeningly discursive.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573442503
  • Publisher: Cleis Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2006
  • Pages: 113
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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