Review: Form & Void (Cerebus Vol. 14)

September 4, 2009

In the home stretch now – I don’t expect any of these last reviews to be very wordy at all, as much of what I’ve already written still applies, and having wrestled with this graphic novel for a good long time.

From Wikipedia:

Second and concluding part of the story-arc Going Home. Cerebus and Jaka continue their journey towards Sand Hills Creek, in the company of Ham and Mary Ernestway, characters based upon Ernest Hemingway and his fourth wife, Mary. On the trip, Mary tells them about some of her and Ham’s journeys (this material is based on Mary Hemingway’s journals about Ernest’s last African safaris before his death).

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Ham kills himself, and Cerebus flees in panic, taking Jaka with him. They discover that they have been traveling in circles without making any significant progress toward Sand Hills Creek, and nearly die in a blizzard.

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They finally arrive in Sand Hills Creek only to find that Cerebus’ parents are dead and the rest of the community has shunned Cerebus for his perceived abandonment of his family. Cerebus drives Jaka away, blaming her for keeping him away too long.

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I’ve never read Hemingway – perhaps I should count myself lucky.

Annnoying bit number umpty-dozen: even when I feel that Sim is digressing from what I think the main plot should be, he always gives me something interesting in return. Hard to get mad at him when he does that.

Like: the charge of being a “typist” that Sim levels at Hemingway – I felt the same way while I attempted to read The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  After a bit, I was reduced to skimming the novel for something of interest to me (a good sex scene, some violence, something).  I think it was the short declarative sentences, coupled with McCarthy’s lack of capitalization skills that put me off that novel.  Sounds like Sim had the same sort of time with Hemingway, although, back then, proper capitalization was  still in vogue.

And (yes, I’m inserting a spoiler, sue me) the revelation that both Hemingway and his wife ate lion meat on that last safari they took.


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Funniest bit in this volume – Sim on the “talent” of Picasso in his Cubism phase:

Let’s say someone is holding a gun to your head and he tells you that you have to do an exact copy of one of these paintings in a week.  And one of the paintings is a Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover and one of the paintings is a Picasso.  It does not matter which one, as long as the Picasso is one of the ones that is just a geometric patchwork of painted shapes. So any Picasso from Cubism onward. The Rockwell can be any Saturday Evening Post cover. Now, with a gun at your head and your life on the line, which one are you going to copy?  Exactly.  Why?  Because pretty much anybody can do it.

Dave Sim, Form & Void, Third Printing, November 2001


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