Friday, 23 September 2011

50/111 - Wilson by Daniel Clowes

This blog post makes me want to type 'WILSOOOOOON' a la Castaway, but I think that would be too much of a cliche, plus I'm drunk and will most probably regret it in the morning.

I got this book when I was working at Vintage again earlier this year. I was working in the same department as Jonathan Cape and I really like their comics so I took a copy of this one too. My old manager from Waterstone's had been really excited to read this and I generally value his taste in books so I thought I'd give it a try, even though I haven't read any Daniel Clowes before.

Man, Wilson is a dick.

Wilson is a middle-aged American dude who tries overly hard to make connections with total strangers, pretending that he is some sort of empathetic philanthropist when in fact he is barely masking the fact that he has total and utter contempt for most people. And at the same time, he is totally self-involved, obnoxious and misinformed about all those around him and their perception of him.

Basically a terrible, empty, human being.

The story consists of a number of 'shorts' of 6-8 panels, normally with some sort of bleak punchline at the end of each one. Wilson fins himself empty after the death of his father and decides to try and reconnect with his ex-wife and the daughter they gave up for adoption.

The results are terrible. Wilson is barely able to conceal insults to his former wife and daughter, as well as those around them (he sends a bag of poop to his ex-wife's brother at one point) and tries to involve total strangers in their lives.

There is also quite a sinister undertone to the relationships with his ex-wife and daughter, with his ex-wife recounting a vague memory of a kidnapping and his daughter remarking that she's had a lot of therapy since being adopted. I get the impression that the pregnancy was nonconsensual somehow, and that this is why his wife gave up their daughter for adoption? Maybe I'm being a little dark and morbid because I'm drunk but who knows. Who knows.

Anyway, I liked this. It was funny, even though Wilson is a total douche. Probably even BECAUSE he is a total douche. The whole thing feel very alienated and distant, which is a style I can only put up with for so long, however in the form of these tiny vignettes, it works perfectly.

One of the funniest parts for me is when he approches a hooker on the street, with the pretence of looking for his ex-wife, and when the hooker says she doesn't know her, he says, 'I guess maybe I'll get a blow-job, then.'

The artwork is pretty cool. Wilson's face keeps changing and morphing, from a fairly realistic looking man to a cartoon-ish character with a huge head.

That's all I have to say.

Next: The Night Circus by Erin something-something

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