Monday, April 26, 2010

Polyp Asterios

Over the weekend, David Mazzucchelli's Asterios Polyp won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for the best graphic novel of last year. Here's the citation:
Mazzucchelli’s monolith is a beautifully executed love story, a smart and playful treatise on aesthetics, a perfectly unified work whose every formal element, down to the stitching on its spine, serves its themes. No wonder the main character is an architect finding his way back to his Ithaca and his Penelope: “Asterios Polyp” is an odyssey of design as well as writing and art and cartooning. Steeped in classicism and wholly modern, it’s a pleasure to read, and maybe even more of a pleasure to contemplate and discuss.

Douglas Wolk, Joel Rose, and I were the judges; what a treat! We read some amazing books, not all of which could even make it onto our shortlist. (The eclectic list of finalists included Luba, Footnotes in Gaza, the fifth Scott Pilgrim installment, and Gogo Monster.)

* * *

Part 2 of this post is kind of a mind-blower. Before Asterios Polyp, what I knew about Mazzucchelli was that he was one of two artists who worked on the (excellent) graphic novel adaptation of Paul Auster's City of Glass. I had my students look at the first few pages of the book (the adaptation) on Thursday, and mentioned that D.M. had recently published his masterpiece. I wrote the title on the board: "ASTERIOS POLYP."

As we were picking up our things at the end of class, one student remarked: "That looks like 'Auster, Paul.'"


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