Friday, April 07, 2017

What we're reading: Graphic novel memoir

Reviewed by Laura M., Reference Librarian

I picked up the graphic novel Over Easy, by Mimi Pond, after reading a promising review of its forthcoming sequel: The Customer is Always Wrong. Described as a “semi-memoir,” Over Easy is about a twenty-something young woman and her time waitressing in Oakland in the late 1970s-early '80s. I often think I could write a book about all the interesting characters I meet at work, and Pond actually did it. I suppose it’s called a “semi-memoir” because it’s just as much about the wild employees working at the restaurant as it is about the author, Madge, who has to drop out of art school when her financial aid falls through and winds up working at the diner she frequented as a student.

Madge is somewhat of an innocent when she enters the soap opera going on between the cooks, waitresses, and managers. Their world is one of early mornings, late afternoons at the bar, drug-addled nights, and constant partner swapping. I enjoyed seeing Madge dipping her toe into this world, yet remaining true to herself. The first time she is invited out to a local dive bar by her manager, she approaches the outing as an anthropologist might, and tries her best to fit in with her surroundings. She is a keen observer and documents the drama with almost no judgement.

So much of this book just clicked for me. The story is episodic and particularly well-suited to the graphic novel genre. I really enjoyed seeing the characters as Madge drew them, and since there were so many of them, their pictures helped me keep track of who was who. The artwork is simple yet evocative, done entirely in black, white, and blue. I was completely drawn in by the hundreds of mini dramas, and was left wanting more. So I’m glad that The Customer is Always Wrong comes out soon!

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