Missouri Boy
  • Missouri Boy
  • Missouri Boy

Missouri Boy

by Leland Myrick
     
 

Firecrackers lighting up an ancient tree on a summer night. Twin boys born the same night their grandmother passes away. Teenagers hanging by their fingertips from the roof of a parking garage. These are the moments of quiet poetry that make up Leland Myrick's Missouri Boy. Happiness alternates with tragedy in these snapshots of Myrick's own Missouri

See more details below

Overview

Firecrackers lighting up an ancient tree on a summer night. Twin boys born the same night their grandmother passes away. Teenagers hanging by their fingertips from the roof of a parking garage. These are the moments of quiet poetry that make up Leland Myrick's Missouri Boy. Happiness alternates with tragedy in these snapshots of Myrick's own Missouri childhood. Filled with startling and at times achingly beautiful images—from a perfect paper airplane flying in the autumn sky to a solitary cross-country motorcycle trip—Myrick's graphic poem brings together the experiences that formed his character, for better and for worse. Poignant, timeless, and gently evoked, Missouri Boy is a unique tribute to a small-town American childhood.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Review in 6/26/06 Publisher's Weekly

Myrick (Bright Elegy) shares slices of his own childhood in this graphic memoir: his birth at the moment of his grandmother's death; a magical Fourth of July, lighting firecrackers in a tree in the yard; a boyhood ritual of skinny-dipping in a pond in the woods; his first failed attempt at romance. He paints childhood as both simple and complex, mixing the joy of folding the perfect paper airplane with the family tragedy of watching his older brother sentenced to 10 years in prison. The words outline the stories in minimal dialogue and lyrical captions, making each section a visual poem. At the end, Myrick sets out on a cross-country motorcycle journey, leaving behind Missouri and all the places steeped in memories of childhood for California, marking his final journey to adulthood. The block colors and rough outlines of the art evoke unsentimental nostalgia for Myrick's youth. The subject matter is reminiscent of such cartoon memoirs as Chester Brown's I Never Liked You and John Porcellino's Perfect Example, but its episodic nature doesn't really hold together as a narrative, and the end result is more evocative than riveting.

Review in 8/1/06 issue of Kirkus

One artist's mild childhood, told in episodic flashes.

It's been a while since we've seen a tale of growing up that trades neither in overwhelming nostalgia nor sheer, unmitigated dysfunction, so the publication of this illustrated memoir by Myrick (Bright Elegy, not reviewed) is especially welcome. The artist's upbringing in a small Missouri town not far from St. Louis is chronicled in self-contained episodes identified by year, beginning in 1961 and ending in 1985. Each chapter is an evocative vignette that could almost stand on its own, and several have a Bradbury-esque glow, while darkness falls over some sections. In "My Father's Hands," which begins with the family dressing for court, Myrick's oldest brother, "head bowed, hippie beard pressed against his chest," gets a ten-year sentence for bank robbery. The most imaginative of these episodes compares his pregnant mother's swollen belly to the distended shape of "one dying grandmother bulging with the death growing in her stomach," then envisions the birth of the artist and his twin: "We enter the world, my brother and I . . . with the circle of life wobbling unsteadily. Attached to a grandmother we will never meet." Most of these stories began as poems, and their elliptical lilt remains, accentuated by Myrick's artwork (color by Hilary Sycamore), replete with haunted eyes and giant, toothy smiles. By the end, when his youthful self shakes off the past ("I feel the presence of my local gods waning") and he heads for California, readers may feel wistful for a childhood they never experienced.

Short, gleeful and precise.

Starred Review in 9/15/06 Booklist

Gr. 9-12. In this graphic novel, Myrick contributes a heartfelt glimpse of his youth, presenting vignettes that reflect life growing up in a small town. From marveling at the creation of a perfect paper airplane and swimming nude in a nearby lake with his friends to muffing an opportunity with a pretty girl and seeing death close up, the author shares memories of his boyhood and teen years. Even if Myrick's specific memories aren't ours, they touch and connect us as readers, encouraging us to remember our own youth. There are no terrible secrets or great revelations here. It's the tenderness and intimacy of the spare words and pictures that set the book apart. Myrick's art, from the rich colors to the panel layouts, works on a gut level. It seems so simple, yet it speaks independently of the words, providing a subtext and an emotional nuance that create a sense of the wistful hope of childhood. A fine example of the graphic novel.

Review in 9/1/06 VOYA

This memoir offers glimpses into the author's childhood and the onset of adulthood. Life in Missouri appears idyllic in some situations but sad in others. Each chapter paints a picture of Myrick's life, from birth with a twin brother and the death of a grandmother he never met in chapter one to the final chapter of his departure from Missouri to California to be with a girl from college. His childhood friendships with neighbors and his twin are portrayed in both good and bad situations. The good includes an old swimming hole where the boys would go during hot, muggy days or building a paper airplane with his brother, and the bad is being buried in fallen leaves only to emerge and discover his friends urinating on him. Adulthood is shown through Myrick's work at a hospital, his attraction to a volunteer there, and a dead body bleeding on him.

The graphic novel format is an attractive medium to use for this selective memoir story. The colored art is rudimentary in its portrayal of faces, but otherwise, the simplistic style works best for the story. The real downfall is the appeal factor. The book will appeal to adults, but few teens will be searching for a slice of idyllic Missouri life in their graphic novels. —Kristen Fletcher-Spear

Publishers Weekly
Myrick (Bright Elegy) shares slices of his own childhood in this graphic memoir: his birth at the moment of his grandmother's death; a magical Fourth of July, lighting firecrackers in a tree in the yard; a boyhood ritual of skinny-dipping in a pond in the woods; his first failed attempt at romance. He paints childhood as both simple and complex, mixing the joy of folding the perfect paper airplane with the family tragedy of watching his older brother sentenced to 10 years in prison. The words outline the stories in minimal dialogue and lyrical captions, making each section a visual poem. At the end, Myrick sets out on a cross-country motorcycle journey, leaving behind Missouri and all the places steeped in memories of childhood for California, marking his final journey to adulthood. The block colors and rough outlines of the art evoke unsentimental nostalgia for Myrick's youth. The subject matter is reminiscent of such cartoon memoirs as Chester Brown's I Never Liked You and John Porcellino's Perfect Example, but its episodic nature doesn't really hold together as a narrative, and the end result is more evocative than riveting. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Kristen Fletcher-Spear
This memoir offers glimpses into the author's childhood and the onset of adulthood. Life in Missouri appears idyllic in some situations but sad in others. Each chapter paints a picture of Myrick's life, from birth with a twin brother and the death of the grandmother he never met in chapter one to the final chapter of his departure from Missouri to California to be with a girl from college. His childhood friendships with neighbors and his twin are portrayed in both good and bad situations. The good includes an old swimming hole where the boys would go during hot, muggy days or building a paper airplane with his brother, and the bad is being buried in fallen leaves only to emerge and discover friends urinating on him. Adulthood is shown through Myrick's work at a hospital, his attraction to a volunteer there, and a dead body bleeding on him. The graphic novel format is an attractive medium to use for this selective memoir story. The colored art is rudimentary in its portrayal of faces, but otherwise, the simplistic style works best for the story. The real downfall is the appeal factor. The book will appeal to adults, but few teens will be searching for a splice of idyllic Missouri life in their graphic novels.
KLIATT - George Galuschak
Leland Myrick was born on the day his grandmother died. As a child, he did the things boys do—flying paper airplanes, draping fireworks on the branches of the Firecracker Tree, skinny-dipping with his friends at the local pond. There are more adult memories, also—recalling his older brother's trial and conviction for bank robbery, hanging by his hands off a five-story parking garage to impress a girl, and working at a hospital as an X-ray technician. Missouri Boy is a fine choice for teens who like poetry. This graphic novel/memoir doesn't contain a great deal of action or any real plot, but there are many quiet, powerful moments that more mature readers will appreciate. The stories are chock-full of vibrant imagery and rather resemble prose poems. Myrick's full-color art is realistic; he is excellent at drawing faces and facial expressions. Missouri Boy contains some imagery that may be unsuitable for younger readers—a hospital patient bleeding from his nose and mouth, and Myrick's friends urinating on him (you can't see any genitals). Recommended for collections geared towards older readers, especially those who like poetry.
Kirkus Reviews
One artist's mild childhood, told in episodic flashes. It's been a while since we've seen a tale of growing up that trades neither in overwhelming nostalgia nor sheer, unmitigated dysfunction, so the publication of this illustrated memoir by Myrick (Bright Elegy, not reviewed) is especially welcome. The artist's upbringing in a small Missouri town not far from St. Louis is chronicled in self-contained episodes identified by year, beginning in 1961 and ending in 1985. Each chapter is an evocative vignette that could almost stand on its own, and several have a Bradbury-esque glow, while darkness falls over some sections. In "My Father's Hands," which begins with the family dressing for court, Myrick's oldest brother, "head bowed, hippie beard pressed against his chest," gets a ten-year sentence for bank robbery. The most imaginative of these episodes compares his pregnant mother's swollen belly to the distended shape of "one dying grandmother bulging with the death growing in her stomach," then envisions the birth of the artist and his twin: "We enter the world, my brother and I . . . with the circle of life wobbling unsteadily. Attached to a grandmother we will never meet." Most of these stories began as poems, and their elliptical lilt remains, accentuated by Myrick's artwork (color by Hilary Sycamore), replete with haunted eyes and giant, toothy smiles. By the end, when his youthful self shakes off the past ("I feel the presence of my local gods waning") and he heads for California, readers may feel wistful for a childhood they never experienced. Short, gleeful and precise.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781596431102
Publisher:
First Second
Publication date:
09/05/2006
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
112
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 7.73(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >