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LITTLE THINGS by Jeffrey Brown

LITTLE THINGS

A Memoir in Slices

By Jeffrey Brown

Pub Date: April 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4165-4946-8
Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

More autobiographical sketches, in no particular order, from Chicago graphic artist Brown (Cat Getting out of a Bag and Other Observations, 2007, etc.).

From the previously published first chapter, “These Things These Things,” through the finale, “A Tiny Piece of Myself,” the prolific author covers roughly the last four years of his small-scale experiences. A reader would have to be well acquainted with his personal life to see much of a progression from one year to the next; Brown’s graphic recollections can seem random and ordinary, and no doubt that’s intentional. The always hirsute and bedraggled artist makes the rounds in one story after another: drawing at Earwax coffeeshop, selling CDs at Barnes & Noble, listening to music, dealing with his cat, having touch-and-go romances that involve lots of waiting for phone calls and parsing of signals, not to mention negotiating dilemmas like whether to romance “smartie” or “cutie.” The art is lo-fi in the extreme, with cramped framing and people who look like the sort of hunched caricatures another artist might doodle in the margins before moving on to the main event. The book’s dialogue will win no awards, resorting often to a Seinfeld-ian blah blah blah method of elision. Chapters like the long-winded “Missing the Mountains,” in which he goes hiking and plays Scrabble with a friend, sometimes give Brown’s memoir the air of a chronically low-achieving slacker’s take on the form—i.e., exert as little effort as possible. But the bulk of the pieces charm with their off-kilter humor and sad-sack tales of the lovelorn, such as the brilliantly self-deprecating mini-essay, “How to Meet a Girl.”

Unprepossessing but also winning snapshots of varying (non)importance from an unremarkable life that pretends to be nothing but. Could easily appeal to those new to the genre.