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Special exits : a graphic memoir
Joyce Farmer
Adult Fiction FARMER

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Underground feminist comic artist Farmer's account of how she looked after her aging parents is a quiet wonder. Lars and Rachel are long retired and don't venture out much from their South Los Angeles home except to go to the grocery store. Lars reads the paper, and both eagerly look forward to visits from their daughter (named Laura but presumably Farmer's stand-in) as much as they don't want to trouble her. Over the course of years that cascade through Farmer's closely detailed story, Lars and Rachel slowly become needier, but do their best to hide their decrepitude from Laura. As the years pass (the 1992 Rodney King riots threaten to make their existence even more perilous), Laura teases out small facts about her parents that she'd never known-the bags of uranium ore that Lars, an engineer, keeps in the garage, Rachel's desperately poor Missouri childhood. Farmer renders everything in busy, densely packed black-and-white frames whose cluttered look mimics the dusty house, its surfaces thick with cat hair and memories. The story is stunning for its antisentimental realism, as well as for the glimpses of fantasy (Lars's hallucination of Hades' ferryman, Charon, rowing by in the hallway) that flicker by like ghosts. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Often, the end of life comes not out of the blue but via a gradual and bumpy ride down a rutted slope, with so many switchbacks you can't see what's coming. And so the elderly Lars and Rachel, as observed and aided by daughter Laura (apparently a lightly fictionalized Joyce), stumble toward the Exit. Neither heroes nor villains, all three appear well intentioned but careless and naive. Yet while their story is poignant, the characters also find moments of joy in flashes of new intimacy, favorite memories, and fresh insights. More a biography of Lars and Rachel than of Farmer herself, this account does not interpret so much as record unflinchingly and gracefully a distinctly ungraceful and universal process rarely faced by most of us until necessary. With realistic black-and-white art functioning like a TV camera, it will educate the still-naive and offer recognition to those familiar with the path already. VERDICT Farmer's work deserves a place among the classic graphic narratives about illness, and it is highly recommended for general collections in all public and academic libraries.-M.C. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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