Reviewing the Review: June 19 2005

It’s funny that we were talking about graphic novels last week, because The Long Road Home, an unusual Doonesbury book by Garry Trudeau, is the cover story of this week’s New York Times Book Review.

I used to like Doonesbury a lot, but I stopped reading Doonesbury books a long time ago. The Doonesbury Chronicles is the first and it’s a classic, covering Kent State to Watergate in the cheerful confines of Walden Puddle, somewhere near Yale University. But then there was another book, and another … and over time the focus began to seem less sharp and I stopped paying attention.

Reviewer Kurt Anderson admits to having felt the same way, but this latest book is not just a collection of strips but a tale of a soldier’s crisis in Iraq. B. D., the football-helmeted right-winger of the original Doonesbury crew, is the protagonist, and according to Anderson the story is quite powerful.

I think it’s the Book Review’s job to nudge the world when a yesterday-writer we’ve all taken for granted suddenly comes up with something good and new. That’s what Kurt Anderson is doing with this review, and I’m glad he did. I will definitely buy this book.

This week’s issue was adequate but thin. I enjoyed the endpaper in which Neal Pollack attempts to start a beef with Dave Eggers and the McSweeney’s posse. I don’t believe a word of it, but it’s funny. I skimmed some articles about urban literature (a yawner, sorry), about a “Da Vinci Code”-style historical mystery about Lord Byron and his computer-programmer daughter Ada, and about a novel by Jonathan Coe, “The Closed Circle”, which is described as being somewhat like Jonathan Coe’s previous novel “The Rotter’s Club”, and since I have never read “The Rotter’s Club” this really doesn’t give me much to go on. But that’s okay. It was father’s day and I was more interested in burgers and dogs than books today. Some of the Book Review staffers may have been too.

3 Responses

  1. What I heardBecause
    What I heard

    Because Doonesbury characters are so well known to those of us who regularly read the strip, Garry Trudeau decided to let B.D. become a war casualty because it would drive the point home about war. I’m not saying whether or not he gets killed, you’ll have to read it for yourself…

  2. Trudeau is currentPossibly
    Trudeau is current

    Possibly his fans are boomers but he puts a comic strip in the paper everyday so he’s definitely not a yesterday writer.

    Whether he’s in the vanguard’s debatable.

  3. True, WW, but as you say,
    True, WW, but as you say, whether he’s in the vanguard is debatable. He used to be in the vanguard, and that’s why I called him a yesterday-writer … even though it is probably not a completely fair statement, as you suggest.

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