Laid Waste, by Julia Gfrörer (2016) E

Reviewer: Emera
Date read: 6.14.2017
Book from: Gift from K. – THANK YOU!

So fucking dark and anguished. Julia Gfrörer’s Laid Waste is a desperate song about human love amid plague-stricken Europe – like a graphic novel cousin of Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. Grasping, bony fingers and limp corpses.

Gfrörer intercuts long passages of the deepest existential despair with wisps of dark humor – two children flatly discussing how best to avoid breathing in the smoke from a bonfire, for example – and with the fragile suggestion of divine grace. Better, though, than the questionable blessing of unlooked-for survival, is the desperate strength of human connection: “Everything outside of this is darkness.” “Yes.”

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so deeply, with both mind and body, the vast loneliness and despair of one of history’s darkest periods – and humanity’s baffling, tragicomically stubborn resilience in the face of unrelenting loss.

Like her storytelling, Gfrörer’s art feels both delicate and terrifyingly honest. It establishes a territory somewhere between Dürer and Egon Schiele. Meticulous hatching contrasts with wavering, slightly uncomfortably organic shapes. That wavering quality creates a strange sense of movement even when she’s working through one of a series of mostly stationary panels, which compel us to wait and watch and feel with her characters. With most other artists, the inconsistency of shape and anatomy would register as a technical shortcoming; with Gfrörer, it’s another means of expression.

I feel very, very lucky to have been introduced to Gfrörer’s work through a generous gift from friend K.; I plan to write about the two other comics he gifted me, Black is the Color and Flesh and Bone, over the next few weeks, and hope to buy the rest of her comics soon.

Go to:
FLOOD Magazine: Sex, death and suffering – a conversation with Julia Gfrörer, author of Laid Waste

Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom (1997)

Date Read: 9.24.09
Book From: Neha
Reviewer: Kakaner


Morris Schwartz, a professor of sociology at Brandeis, discovers he has ALS and begins his journey to death. Mitch Albom, the author, learns of his professor’s condition and begins to visit him regularly on Tuesdays for his “one last class”. Tuesdays with Morrie chronicles Morrie’s last days through the eyes of Albom and relates Morrie’s philosophies outlooks on life, love, and death.


Morrie’s tale is touching and admirable; his philosophies are noteworthy and brave.Morrie taught the importance of relationships and love above all else in this world, and used his struggle with death to examine how one should approach and embrace the end. The edition I read claims that Tuesdays with Morrie has changed millions of lives and, well, I can certainly believe that many people have been impacted by this book. I feel like Morrie and I would get along because I share the same views as him and can only hope that when I reach his age, I will be able to be an example of my beliefs.

However, I found Tuesdays with Morrie very hard to enjoy. The writing was incredibly spare and simple to a fault, and all in all, incredibly dramatic. The prose (if you could call it that) reads like Dan Brown’s and the italicized entries are reminiscent of Lifetime programming. Morrie’s story is already beautiful and it does not need added dramatism or overstatements. I do not doubt that Albom is a great journalist because I can tell his writing style is great for that field, and especially for sports. It just felt like a cop out because each chapter was so clearly a simple transcription of audio tapes, and edited so as to push the reader’s emotional buttons. I wish Albom had added more literary meat and interpretation. Reading this novel devolved into a plodding journey and my enthusiasm was gradually buried by mediocrity.

I honestly tried really hard to read past the writing and into the content, but everytime I hit yet another cheesy and dramatic chapter-ender I would cringe a little and put the book down. I’m sure picky readers will encounter the same experience, in which case I would definitely not recommend reading Tuesdays with Morrie. But I suspect for the most part, people will enjoy this and people should read this, if not only to increase ALS awareness and for a mature prospective on life.

Go to:

Mitch Albom