Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Books in 2013: #8 The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire

I have fallen woefully behind in documenting the books I've been reading this year. So this week, I'm going to play catch-up. Back in January, I said I was aiming to read 25 books this year. While I've documented 7 of them on the blog, I'm actually up to 22. So I really need to get moving here (and perhaps move up that goal number!)

For my graphic novel book club, our first pick of the year was Jeff Lemire's The Underwater Welder. I'd read Lemire's masterwork, Essex County, a year ago, and adored it (highly, highly recommended; make sure you get the complete volume that contains the trilogy of stories that were originally released separately). Underwater Welder contains some of the same elements — Lemire's sketchy drawings, his hollowed-out eyes, the use of flashback to understand what the characters are undergoing in the present, and lots of symbolism. If those last two items sound vaguely Lost-like, they should: one of Lemire's biggest fans is Damon Lindelof, the co-creator of Lost, and Lindelof writes the introduction to this book. In it he introduces the story as the missing episode of The Twilight Zone, and once you read that, it's pretty much the only way you can read the book. Of course, even if I hadn't read that I probably would have gotten that vibe. This is the story of Jack, a broken man haunted by his past with his father (OK, more than a little bit Lost-like!) who works as an underwater welder of large oil rigs off the coast of Nova Scotia. When he sees something underwater that he believes might be the ghost of his father ("White Rabbit," anyone?) he begins to follow it down the path into the dark wonderland of his past. What happens next is an interesting look at how our past directs the present and affects everything we do. I enjoyed this book, although it's short and not as rich as Essex County. But Lost fans will definitely be intrigued by it.

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