This week's Unshelved Book Club is full of books that would be great for book clubs. They're about two men who fought on opposite sides in WWI competing for the same young woman's affections, short stories set in Spokane, WA, invisible women, a dying man reliving the painful moments of his life, a doctor with schizophrenia who still hears voices, compulsive, genius photographer Edward Curtis, two women linked by a line of Siberian huskies, a computer hacker who has fallen in love with the wrong woman, a young loner who makes an emotional new friend, a young golfer on a road trip, a mother writing about her terminally ill infant, and a young girl with supernatural sewing abilities.
Plus I had a chance to talk to Lucy Knisley about junk food, eating live octopus, and breakfast cereal. Her beautiful, foody graphic novels Fresh Milk and Relish would give any book group the perfect excuse (and inspiration) for the best pot luck ever. If you recognize Lucy's name from somewhere, it could be because she drew this amazing guest comic for us back in June, or because you saw her recent comic about writing autobiography, dating, and getting engaged.
Gene: After reading Relish again, I feel like your memory works very differently than mine. Do you feel like you remember things differently than other people?
Lucy: I think that there have been lots of studies that link smell to memory, where you smell something from your childhood and all the sudden it's like, "Oh, I"m transported back to that time." But I think that mine is more geared toward taste and flavor and the remembrance of certain kinds of food. There's something to be said for the sense memory, the evocativeness of being able to remember what something tasted like and then linking that to other things that happened at the time. So that's sort of the structure of Relish in that I was trying to tell the story of my life and growing up with a chef mother by conjuring these memories of things that I ate as a kid.
G: Did you know that was going to be the structure before you started working on it? Or did you come up with it as you were working on the comics?
L: I really love food and I really love writing about food and I sort of started to think about how, as an autobiographical comic artist, it would make sense to tell my story using food to tell my story. It really came together pretty naturally. My whole family works in food. My whole upbringing was involved with food, so it was just the logical way to tell my story.