Friday, March 13, 2009

Essex County

This promises to be a busy weekend, at least for me. Doogie and Molly have Solo Ensemble tomorrow. He's in two events, and she's in four, I think, maybe more. I'll be hanging out at the school going from one to the next until after Molly's solo at 1:56, then I have to run to a baby shower for my pastor's wife. The shower actually starts at 2 pm, but there's no way I can see Molly sing and make it from the Falls to Gillett in time, so I'll be a little late. I had so much fun shopping for baby gifts! We've had a lot of baby boys born in our circle of friends and family in the last few months. Well, two, but three if you count the shower on Saturday. Another of Jesse's cousins is due in July, and I'm hoping that this one is a girl! I've had a gift for a girl since I found out my best friend Bonnie was pregnant, but she had a girl, so I'm holding on to it. Someone will have a girl sooner or later! LOL

Ghost Stories: Essex County Vol. 2 by Jeff Lemire is the second volume in the trilogy of graphic novels about a fictionalized version of Essex County, Ontario where Lemire grew up. I read the first volume, Tales from the Farm, quite some time ago but you don't need to have read that one in order to appreciate this beautiful story. Lou LeBeuf is living out his last days in a nursing home and drifting in and out of memories from his past, reliving moments before he dies. The book is almost elegiac and wonderfully lyrical. Lemire's art takes a bit of adjustment, but once the reader is caught in the story, you can see that it suits the tale completely. He captures faces with just a few perfectly rendered lines. Lou's regret colors every page, but as he remembers a night of passion, he realizes that despite the damage it did to his life and family relationships, he wouldn't change a thing just to have that one moment of beauty and love in his life. I love Lemire's almost surrealistic drawings like Lou lying across the entire city of Toronto as he comments that he has become a part of the city and is slowly losing himself. Lemire's story is full of depth and haunting loneliness.

The County Nurse: Essex County Vol. 3 by Jeff Lemire is the concluding book in this terrific trilogy. While you don't need to have read Tales from the Farm, the first book, to enjoy the second one, Ghost Stories, it is absolutely essential to read it before diving into The County Nurse. The story picks up shortly after the end of Ghost Stories with the county nurse going on her rounds and wondering if she actually makes a difference in anyone's life. She visits her grandmother at the nursing home, and the story flashes back to 1917 and the grandmother's story of taking care of other's in need and regret. The nurse tries not to meddle in other's lives, but can't help herself, so Les and his uncle from the first book continue their story here. The book isn't as strong as the first two in the series and leaves some loose ends that I hope Lemire ties up elsewhere, but it's still such a wonderful read. I can't say enough good things about his artistry and the way he captures the slow pace of rural life.

I'll be starting a new book contest on Monday; I hope you'll come back then!