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It feels like Marjorie is barely holding everything together at the family laundromat. Her widowed father has pretty much checked out, there's a weird yoga entrepreneur looking to repossess the property, and the place might be haunted. By a genuine ghost. In a sheet with eye-holes. Thummler's book is gorgeous to behold: the finely-observed, colorful illustrations are as inviting as a giant bowl of Fruit Loops. It's an appropriate compliment to her whimsical, touching story, which navigates grief while still putting a huge smile on the reader's face. It's like a clean clothes smell for your heart. ~ Reviewed by Charles Bottomley
Tillie Walden didn't grow up wanting to be a competitive figure skater, but its reassuring routines are what's keeping her young self together until she figures out what else life has to offer. The Ignatz-Award-winning cartoonist has now turned her coming of age into one of the best graphic memoirs in years. Told in purple-hued imagery that takes in both athletic grace and the unforgiving florescence lights of the skating rink, Walden recounts the petty jealousies and occasional triumphs that kept her involved in the sport, even as she felt herself pulling away. Those expecting a straightforward "Cutting Edge"-style saga of triumph on ice might be confounded. Those looking for a real story suffused with hope and other pleasures should save a spot on the podium for "Spinning." ~ Reviewed by Charles Bottomley
Krosoczka is a writer-illustrator best known for his popular kids series Lunch Lady and Platypus Police. His graphic memoir, however, is a powerful story that will appeal to all ages. At a young age Krosoczka was abandoned by his heroin-addicted mother, leaving his ornery grandparents to pick up the slack. He grows up amid an atmosphere of cigarette smoke, casual barbs and endless cocktails, all the while seeking to express the turmoil of emotions inside. What could be bitter is sweetened by Krosoczka's adult understanding of the family tensions that produced his situation and the delightful art that proves to be his liberation. Great stuff. ~ Reviewed by Charles Bottomley
Whether writing about adulterous couples or the trials of military life, Dubus crafted stories about adults for adults. His insights into human nature have lost none of their sharpness over the decades, and his expansive, generous prose sings in a way that marks a great American writer. This edition contains his first two collections, and features such gems at the bruising title novella (which became a film with Mark Ruffalo and Laura Dern), the hilarious coming-of-age tale "If They Knew Yvonne" and the tender, self-explanatory "Fat Girl." ~ Reviewed by Charles Bottomley
Roll over Shirley Jackson and tell H.P. Lovecraft the news ... Aickman is one of the best horror writers you've never heard of. A day's outing turns into a journey into heartbreak and madness. A charity evening of music and magic becomes the worst outing ever. A condemned cemetery threatens to take down the living along with the dead. Aickman's prose style is keen as a switchblade - he can slip from deft wit to extreme terror in a skipped heartbeat. Sample his surreal, addictive, odorous tales if you dare, but be prepared to spend a lifetime looking over your shoulder. ~ Reviewed by Charles Bottomley