Asterios PolypBook | David Mazzucchelli By Emma Hospelhorn
A brilliant graphic odyssey of one eccentric man’s life that uses the history of art as its language.
Yes, Asterios Polyp is a graphic novel. But it's also one of the best novels of the decade. It is not merely an illustrated story of an architect who, after a devastating fire, begins anew; rather it uses the history of art as its language to relate the odyssey of one man's life--and, like James Joyce, writer/artist David Mazzucchelli has used the basic plot points and signifiers of Homer's epic. The book's basic premise is stated in the first few splendid pages: "What if reality (as perceived) were simply an extension of the self? Wouldn't that color the way each individual experiences the world?" As Asterios, an arrogant architect drawn entirely in blue geometric forms, falls in love with his future wife, Hana, her more organic red crosshatchings merge with his severe geometric lines to color both of them. When they fight, they revert to their original forms and colors. Each brilliantly quirky character in this novel is drawn in his or her own way, expressing thoughts in a font all their own. With so many nuances of color and style, this novel, besides being both a deconstruction of an egoist's identity and a philosophical meditation, is just flat-out gorgeous.