OUT ON THE WIRE by Jessica Abel
Kirkus Star


The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio
by illustrated by
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A richly engaging graphic narrative about radio storytelling and storytelling in general.

Though drawing cartoons about radio would seem to be counterintuitive—exploring such an aural medium through visual means—Abel (La Perdida, 2006, etc.) shows what a complementary, multilayered relationship the two can have. This is a narrative about narrative—how it works and why—and the author is its narrator, so it provides insight into her work as well as that of Ira Glass and so many others involved in This American Life and other NPR storytelling programs. “Turns out, I need to read this book in order to write it,” she explains toward the end in an untitled epilogue that finds the artist alone in the wilderness, trying to find a path through the trees. “In the end, that’s kind of what happened. I wrote the book and read it, rewrote it and read it, and drew it and read it.” The results are rewarding for author and reader alike, as the latter will not only discover the keys to narrative radio (along with the laborious work, including months of planning and hours of taping), but also the keys to graphic narrative as well. All are not only “character-driven,” but “the characters change and they grow and they learn something new, and surprising.” “A bunch of anecdotes aren’t enough to make a powerful story,” shares one of the characters in Abel’s book, about the characters in one of the many radio stories illustrated here. “You need the person to undergo a change.” Glass, the primary character and narrator here, other than the author, insists, “radio is a very visual medium.” The illustrations of radio in action, the scenes behind the scenes, underscore that assertion.

A spirited work whose readership should not be limited to those who make radio narrative or love to listen to it.

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-385-34843-0
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Broadway
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2015


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