Knisley, Lucy. Displacement: A Travelogue.

Seattle: Fantagraphic Books, 2015.

As readers of my reviews know, I really like Lucy’s graphic novels — except you can’t call them “novels” because there’s no fiction in them. Her books all come out of her own life experiences, often involving travel or food, or both. She’s a gentle, humane sort, and thoughtful and perceptive. And a bit of a geek, actually. And definitely the sort of person you’d like to hang out with.

This one developed out of her grandparents’ decision a couple years ago (they’re both in their nineties) to embark on a Caribbean cruise. Their adult children were rather taken aback, concerned about their parents’ declining health and especially their mother’s growing mental confusion. So Lucy was drafted, all expenses paid, to go along to keep an eye on them — only she ends up doing far more than that. In fact, you have to wonder if the old folks would even have made it back home without her attentive assistance.

She’s an experienced traveler herself (an “airport ninja,” as she says), so she oversees everyone’s packing, though not very successfully. That’s her first hint that this might be more work than she expected. She also packs a copy of her grandfather’s memoir of his World War II experiences as a scout pilot for the Third Armored Division, and excerpts from his anecdotal narrative appear throughout, which gives a nice balance to his present-day physical decline.

She has revealing things to say about the value of patience, and constructive worrying, and the aging process, and the difference between her childhood memories of Grandma and Grandpa and her 27-year-old view of them now, and also about the mechanics of the cruise (with which she is not at all impressed). Actually, you can view Displacement as sort of a follow-up to An Age of License, which was about the freedom of being young and unattached. Here, she begins to discover the other end of the life cycle.

And the graphical part of the book? Lovely. And simple. As always, her style suits her narrative. There’s a reason I own all of Knisley’s books. She does really, really nice work.

Published in: on 26 February 2016 at 8:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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