December Books 10) Boulevard of Broken Dreams

10) Boulevard of Broken Dreams, by Kim Deitch with Simon Deitch

Another one of Time‘s Must-Read 25. To be honest, after I’d read the first quarter, I thought I was probably going to have to write this up as a dud; after ten really good recommendations from the Time list, the law of averages must mean that one wouldn’t work out. Deitch’s style is very close to Robert Crumb’s; I find it crowded and grotesque, I had difficulty telling the difference between some of the characters, and it all seemed to be about the difficult life of the graphics artist (though specifically here on animated films rather than dead tree comics).

But then I started reading the next section, and suddenly realised that this was a rich, multi-layered narrative, where the same events were told over again from different points of view, and that was in fact saying much more about human relationships than about the comics writer’s lonely life. I put it down with difficulty last night, half way through; then read it to the end this evening and then went back to the start to pick up things I had missed first time round. I still don’t much like the drawing style, but am prepared to put that aside for the story.

What’s it about? Well, on one level it’s about the Mishkin family, Ted Mishkin being the graphic ilustrator who is the central character, and their various professional acquaintances; but on another, we have the cryptic figure of Waldo The Cat, visible only to Ted (and later to his nephew Nathan) and in a sense his Muse, but also the star of the cartoons that he writes successfully. There’s also a certain amount of history of the industry mixed in – I assume that the depiction of vaudeville cinematography in 1910 is more or less accurate, and the skewering of Walt Disney in person is a brief delight. An animated excerpt (with no spoilers for the rest of the plot) can be found here. On balance I would recommend this, but it makes you work harder than I sometimes like to do.

One thought on “December Books 10) Boulevard of Broken Dreams

  1. It’s a shame that the person who got the brunt of this was the security guard, who almost certainly has no power whatsoever to make things better. But if its got onto national TV hopefully the big bosses may also have got the message. Overall very well done.

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