Read Verzwelg Me! by Nate Powell Free Online
Book Title: Verzwelg Me!|
The author of the book: Nate Powell
ISBN 13: 9789089880109
Edition: Stichting Sherpa
Date of issue: November 2011
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 887 KB
City - Country: No data
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Reader ratings: 5.9
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Revision of review 4/9/17
Powell worked for several years with young people with developmental disabilities, something I also did for a shorter time. He also ran a punk record label and performed in several bands. . . and oh, yeah, does these amazing, detailed graphic novels and stories, including the series that took him and his co-authors to The National Book Award in 2016, March, the graphic memoir from Sen. John Lewis of the Civil Rights movement in the US, which Powell illustrated. But Swallow was my very first encounter with him, a story about a family dealing with a dying grandmother who is losing it, and a brother and sister dealing with early onset schizophrenia, something that statistics tell me is something much more common than I had imagined.
The focus in Whole is on the two kids, with primary focus on the girl's more serious, less able to hide, experiences, her visual hallucinations and obsessions. I read this initially and again as a parent whose son has been hospitalized for related issues, so it was scary for me, in the sense that it felt a little more real to me than just any graphic story, of course. In my late teens and twenties, too, I worked in a psych ward with teens who were, among other things, schizophrenic, hallucinating, paranoid, what they then called manic-depressive, so I have had some powerful experiences with this stuff. Powell wants us to experience what it may feel like to live in two worlds, the "real" world and this hallucinatory one that is unfortunately just as real, and with some folks, this secondary world takes over your “other” life. Sad, and frightening, though Powell also captures the anguish (and some attractions/fascinations associated with it beautifully, I think. Reminds me a bit of David B's attempt to depict what he imagines his brother's epilepsy to be, which is of course another sad and anguished story, and also Craig Thompson's Blankets, where he tries to mostly visually capture the swirling, romantic falling of first love. What I’m pointing to here is the way comics can attempt to “capture” the emotional aspects of experience, through metaphor.
I've now taught/read this book several times. I had the occasion to meet Powell, who said it this was his favorite, his most personal book. Some students don't like it for the very reason I do like it: his almost indecipherable hand lettering, which I think helps you understand auditory hallucinations in a way as happening sometimes just on the edge of “normal” hearing, and also helps you recall the mumbling of quiet, alienated young people, their sometimes disjointed, fanatical and unexplained experiences, which are told here to help us understand the experience of hallucinations.
Some of the images are very scary, the stuff of horror, which is what schizophrenics must regularly wrestle with. It's not fun to read, but there's a kind tenderness to the relationship between the brother and sister, who both suffer from the disorder in different ways. The fear, and the coming to terms (in part) with themselves as humans possessing these unwanted perceptions, that's heart wrenching. Powerful, I thought. Not for everyone, maybe. But as I said, I connect with it in part for family and work reasons. As a teacher, you know you have kids in your classrooms that hear voices and have hallucinations, and are medicated, but you don't always know this. Oliver Sacks in Hallucinations makes it clear that what we think of as misperception (think: mirages, and so on) is much more common than most people think.
This last reading, completed April 9, 2017, feels like the grimmest time I have read this book, because in part the future seems scary for my now 17 year old son. It's like looking deeply into the heart of darkness, into madness itself. It’s terrifying, really, though. I’m also reading Ron Powers’s book No One Cares About Crazy People, and sometimes ride the trains to work here in Chicago with plenty of homeless people, some of whom I see are having psychotic episodes, who used to be better protected in and by institutions. The world seems like a meaner, less supportive place to me for people that Powell writes about, for people like my son, than when I worked in the psych hospital in the seventies.
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