After the graphic novel panel this week, I broke my "I'm not buying any books because I'm going into publishing and will either get them for free or never put down manuscripts long enough to read" rule and purchased Dash Shaw's Bottomless Bellybutton.
Don't be intimidated by its size, though it's a 720 page graphic novel. Took me about two and a half hours to read, and I lingered over the artwork.
It's in the same vein as Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan - one of those books so heartbreaking, no one could contest that it's literature. But like Ware, Shaw had a nice way of capturing tiny, familiar details in a visual format that conjures the feeling of your toes clawing the ocean as you tread water, the sound of sand being swept off a deck. There's enough pot and sex involving a kid with bear ears to scare off some people who might otherwise be into this graphic novel, but every character is handled delicately. The dialogue is realistic - much more so than typical fiction - and Shaw's drawing style is incredibly appealing. It cost me days' worth of groceries, and I highly recommend it.
Another cool thing: I met Ashton Applewhite today, and she's got this great blog called So When Are You Going to Retire? Also a project recording tattoo stories called Tattoos for Two. And she wears necklaces made out of black rubber bands. See? Now you'll want to go to her sites. You'll like them, I think.