Right. Time to do something a little different. We are not going to mention the G- N- words. Or at least not for a while. We’re going to talk GOOD BOOKS instead. Close your eyes a moment. Alright, don’t close your eyes. At least not until you’ve read this next bit, then you can close your eyes. In a moment, I want you to close your eyes and think about the last great book you read. Okay? In three seconds – we’ll do a countdown, 3 -2 – 1, right after I finish this next bit – I want you to close your eyes and think about THE LAST GREAT BOOK YOU READ. Okay. 3-2-1. Off you go.
Right. So. That last great book you read. It was pretty damn great, right? It had everything you want from a book, didn’t it? It satisfied you on some molecular level. Got right into the meat and two veg of what makes you YOU didn’t it? More than that, it sent you all John the Baptist, didn’t it? You talked to people about it and – probably – resented the fact that there weren’t MORE people you could talk to about it. GREAT BOOKS, man. Few and far between but when they arrive it’s like – POW! This is why I read, man! THIS! RIGHT HERE! (My John the Baptist is voiced by Dennis Hopper).
Patience by Daniel Clowes is the NEXT great book you are going to read.
Ah, you might say, but isn’t Daniel Clowes a –
Sssssssssssh, I answer. Ssssssssssssssssh.
Doesn’t Daniel Clowes write –
Ssssssssssssssssssh. Sssh. Just ssssssh. For now. Ssh.
This is a story about a c0uple, Patience and Jack. Like any couple, they have their ups and their downs. They aren’t always completely honest with one another. They’re trying for kids, more than that, as we meet them, they’ve just found out – you know, a kid is on the way. They’re thinking about the future. Jack is broadcasting some heavy duty bullshit about the possibilities of a promotion in a job he no longer has, and Patience – well, Patience has some stuff going on as well. And then one day Jack comes home to find Patience dead on the floor. For a little while, everything goes a bit Making a Murderer. Then even the drama of a wrongful accusation is laid aside and Jack is left bereft. Clowes does bereft really, really well.
All of which is more than enough for a substantial novel, right? Love and death. It’s all here. But, as Clowes describes Patience on the back of the book – this is (and I have to write the next bit in caps because, you know, just because) A COSMIC TIMEWARP DEATHTRIP TO THE PRIMORDIAL INFINITE OF EVERLASTING LOVE we know to expect more. I also know that those 11 words will turn some people off but that’s ok. If you’re pleasing all of the people all of the time you’re doing something wrong, right? So at this point the novel goes all 11.22.63. Jack goes forward in time to 2029 and then back in time from to 2006, where he meets a younger Patience, a Patience who doesn’t know him yet. Jack wants to understand who maybe killed her. He wants to see what he can do to change history. Or the future. And of course he’s older. Too old for Patience. James Woods could play him in the film. This would be a great role for James Woods.
Now, there’s more to Patience than just the story of Jack and Patience because there is a skein about a rich kid who mocks Patience and goes on to be famous, and there is a thread about the guy from the future who created a time machine (and is a bit pissed that Jack made use of it) and there is a subplot about a boy Patience knew who had a few issues and who may, Jack thinks, have been the one who actually did away with her. It’s a busy book but at no point does it ever feel rushed. Just as Clowes is good at doing bereft he is also tremendously good at pacing. This is a book that breathes evenly and doesn’t get out of breath when it walks up a hill. It is, as they say, ALL GOOD.
Yes, yes. Okay. It’s a graphic novel. The kind of thing some people dismiss. If you are one of those people, man o man, but you are MISSING OUT. MISSING OUT BIG STYLE as my 14 year old daughter is given to saying. Obviously you and I (discerning people) just try to read that which is good and so we’ll read this and enjoy it and all the rest. But this book is so good it should cross over into the arena of those who don’t normally partake of books in which images and words intersect (because – were you that person – you could read this, fall in love with its majesty, and then go on to read Ghost World and David Boring and Ice Haven and The Death Ray and Mr Wonderful and Wilson – great joys all – and then you could shell out on The Complete Eightball and your life would be so complete you could collapse on the floor like a puddle. I envy you enormously if you have all of those books in your future). But Patience. Patience. Ah. You are a book that is both now and then, a book that flatters and amuses my 43 three year old mind whilst at the same time – thanks to the way in which the art and the words appear alongside one another – working much like a time machine taking me back to those days when I first started reading comics. If I’d dug this out in a second hand shop and learned it was written in 1973, I would be jumping up and down and shouting about this amazing lost classic. As it stands I am instead jumping up and down and shouting about this amazing book written in 2016. Don’t miss out, chumps.
Any Cop?: So good to find a new friend, to read a great book and know that in the remaining years allotted to me this will be a book I go back to again and again and again. Thanks Mr Clowes.