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10 thoughts on “Asterios Polyp

  1. Neil Neil says:

    Really beautiful smart and heart touching story of an architecture professor who when he is 50 learns better It ought to be a five star review but I kept feeling like the moment the whole thing came together it would be one of the best graphic novels anyone had ever done and one of the finest stories ever told and it reached the end and left me feeling that had it all come together perhaps had it been much longer it would have been amazing and as it was it was simply astonishingly good

  2. Seth T. Seth T. says:

    Reading Asterios Polyp is a daunting experience Or maybe not so much the reading which can be accomplished easily enough but the being able to speak sensibly about it afterward I feel kind of like how I did after finishing 2666 only not uite so out of my depth Like Bolaño Mazzucchelli's work here displays a breadth and depth that overtly reuires multiple readings in order find ground solid enough to speak with any authority about the book But since I've only read the book once you'll have to be satisfied with my initial thoughts Asterios Polyp is in the simplest terms a coming of age story—one in which the fifty year old lead celebrated architect Asterios Polyp begins a uest to put away the childish things of his past and embarks on journey of both self discovery and exploration of the world as it is rather than how he has intended to see it for so long In this aspect Asterios reminded me of Mr Ryder from Ishiguro's The Unconsoled a man at the top of his rarefied field who still must learn to grow up And like Ryder Asterios suffers from an inability to see the world as it is and is really like us all victim to his own perceptionsReality perception and memory play a huge role in Mazzucchelli's work here even as they do in everything I've yet read by IshiguroOn top of this is layered the framework of Greek tragedy and specific allusion to the myth of Orpheus this is pointed out through fistfuls of overt clues not the least of which is a dream in which Asterios takes the role of Orpheus and his ex wife Hana embodies Eurydice We get narrative explanations from a meta source in the Greek choral tradition Comparisons to Dionysus and Apollo lead to an evaluation of dualistic systems and perhaps systems generally as Asterios gradually must free himself from systemic shackles in order to finally grow up Of course we suspect if Asterios abandons one aspect he will be destroyed even as Orpheus was for abandoning Dionysus As well there are plenty of references to The Odyssey and this cross pollination of mythologies only serves to enrich our experience of Asterios' journeyThe subject matter by its summary sounds simple enough but Mazzucchelli throws so much into this piece and exercises such deft control over the page that one can easily drown in the details The art is very particular Much is made of Mazzucchelli's use of colour through the book and well with good reason The colouring itself offers storytelling that is available through no other means In fact so occasionally powerful is his use of colour that I worry for colourblind readers that they might miss out on some of the book's sublime momentsOn top of Mazzucchelli's tight reign over his colour spectrum there is ample evidence that he maintains the same level of control over his linework and design Asterios Polyp is a thoroughly designed experience with every element from script to story to illustration to panel design to colouration to control of whitespace adding voice to the chorus of this performance The battle between geometric and organic shapes gives the reader who may not be familiar with all the names and ideas Asterios or his ghostly narrator reference a hook on which to hang the interpreter's hat One's experience of Asterios Polyp will no doubt be enriched by a working knowledge of architectural history familiarity with Greek mythology and Homeric tradition and a smackerel of understanding of postmodern sculpture—but Mazzucchelli's conveyance of story through his visual sense means that even those with Asterios sized gaps in their education can still get in there and have some deeper sense of what's going onAs of this writing I have only read Asterios Polyp once Of course I still have uestions Of course I do I think I understand the ending but I'd like to reread and think on it again I think I understand why he physically takes on the identity of his true last name in the book's final act Polyp is only half his original surname as the immigration official chopped in half the family name when his father immigrated to America I sometimes understand what Mazzuchelli intends with his character names and sometimes not I have the barest kernel of an idea why Mazzuchelli in a mature work that depicts nudity and violence insists on representing verbal obscenity with cartoony symbolic representation eg We made up a #load of these I don't yet fully grasp Asterios' Ignazio dreams I am certain however that many of these things will become clear on subseuent readingsAs I said I have only read Asterios Polyp once And I can't wait to change that fact

  3. Oriana Oriana says:

    book #9 for Jugs CapesAlso this is my second review for CCLaP and my first in a year long series reviewing graphic novels W00tThis is the first in an essay series I'll be doing for CCLaP called Jugs Capes where I look at graphic novels from a girl's point of view I'm not going to say a feminist point of view because I think that's a complicated word one which any thinking woman has a complicated relationship with And as I haven't got any kind of background in gender studies or feminist theory I don't feel comfortable talking about what feminists think of this book or that one I do however feel uite comfortable talking about what I think about something so in this series I will happily do just that Asterios Polyp is a lush fascinating complex book But it's that brilliant kind of complex which can be enjoyed on many levels like Lolita say or The Metamorphosis where if you'd like you can derive great enjoyment from the story on the surface without doing a whole lot of delving Or if you're so inclined you can peel back layers and study the symbolism and wordplay and big ideas thus gaining a fuller multifaceted understanding of this deeply layered textWe meet Asterios Polyp in the middle of a lightning storm He is rumpled and exhausted lying in bed in his luxurious but extremely messy apartment watching what we assume to be pornography we hear what is being said but do not see the picture Then a blinding flash of lightning illuminates the entire page and we see that Asterios's building has caught fire He makes a desperate search of his rooms grabbing a few small items a lighter a pocketknife and a watch and dashes out into the storm Over two lurid pages we watch his apartment burnAfter this dramatic introduction we begin to get to know Asterios He is an architecture professor but a paper architect meaning that none of his designs have ever been built He has always been something of an aloof genius He had a twin brother who died in the womb and who will be our narrator throughout the book He was married to a sculptor and fellow professor named Hana Asterios stands in the rain for a little while watching his apartment burn and then he goes to the Greyhound station and buys a ticket that costs everything he has in his walled He rides until he gets to a small town where he takes a job as a mechanic and rents a room from his boss a big man who lives with his voluptuous wife and their pudgy son Asterios settles into small town life building a treehouse with his boss discussing spirituality with his boss's wife going to see a local band in a local bar Everything he does is tinged with melancholy with regret Asterios is clearly running away from his past but also trying to make some sense of it The story opens out and out in short vignettes the present interspersed with flashbacks dreams and meandering philosophical asidesEverything about Asterios Polyp is dense and slow and meticulously planned and executed It is easily the most beautiful graphic novel I've ever seen Each vignette has a specific palate most using only two or three colors at a time in fact it isn't until the book's very last chapter that Mazzucchelli uses full four color spreads and there is no black in the book at all Each character's speech is written in a uniue font one which is clearly representative of that person's personality The story itself is full and rich the characters multifaceted and real and everything is augmented and reified by freuent digressions both visual and described on perception human behavior physics philosophy mythology spirituality metaphysics and on and on The whole story is of course unraveling the mystery of HanaEarly on during an aside Mazzucchelli presents a random group of people each drawn in a different style and color as a visual representation of how uniue every person is In the group we find out later is Hana rendered in swirling shadowy pink and Asterios in stark angular blue This turns out to be a running motif and later during Asterios and Hana's first meeting his blue outlines begin to fill with pink haze and her pink shadows become outlined in blue until they both have nearly the same appearance Much later when they begin to argue their realistic forms melt back into these elementals he once again empty and blue she returning to unbounded pink demonstrating that no matter how close two people can become they are always at heart fundamentally strange to one another This is of course terribly difficult to describe and is a superb argument for the supremacy of the graphic novel form in this book On that subject I will briefly describe another small section one of the novel's most famous It is an eight page spread with almost no words The traditional panel structure is abandoned in favor of three somewhat parallel rows of small boxes The rows in the middle tell a consistent simple story wherein Hana has lost the puff of a tip inside her ear and has a mild panic until Asterios removes it with a tweezer Above and below this throughline are a constellation of tiny instances of Hana's corporeal life brushing her teeth clipping her nails shaving vomiting eating dressing undressing masturbating snoring drinking crying laughing leaving smiling It is one of the most stunning affecting ways to render the memory of life's unnoticed moments Asterios recalling Hana in all of her physical glory beautiful and rumpled joyful and sick hungry and dirty It is so humanizing so plaintive so shockingly mundane that it elevates Hana to something of a mythical plane It's something that could never be done in prose and to me it is the beating heart of the novel echoed and augmented later by a pitch perfect harrowing devastating wordless dream seuence which is rendered as an intricate dance opera I've read criticism of this book that takes the opposite view of the Hana montage accusing Mazzucchelli as reducing her to a plot device used merely to represent Asterios's development and emotional journey But I think that's an unfair claim Hana is a fully developed character as is the book's whole supporting cast most of whom are generally sympathetically than Asterios himself Certainly Hana is slightly romanticized but this is a story told through a man who is desperately longing for the life and the woman he once had I don't believe romanticization is inherently reductive and I don't believe that Hana's character was secondary or subservient to Asterios's There is so much to say about this dense gorgeous intricate book but I've run out of space and steam I couldn't recommend it highly though; this and Fun Home are the most astonishing graphic novels and among the most astonishing books of any kind I've ever come across

  4. David Schaafsma David Schaafsma says:

    One of a few genius books in graphic novels one of the great ones And improbably about a logical theoretical architect To really appreciate this one you may have to BE an artist because much if the story is in form color design so I am still learning but it is done by a superhero artist who for years has labored in the background except he is also the Batman One guy who breaks out in his own brilliant direction You know you have this almost completely unlikeable character Asterios who sees the world from a very logical perspective very limited to Reason enlightenment based modernism and his life has fallen apart but the people he encounters the situations he lives through they affect him

  5. MJ Nicholls MJ Nicholls says:

    The first proper graphic novel I’ve read This was such a beautiful and heartbreaking piece of work it’ll be nigh on impossible to top it It is rich in glorious meditation comedy irony and romance weaving deep uestions of binary opposites architectural philosophy life the universe and everything around a dissolving relationship story I don’t have the vocab or knowledge to comment on the artwork’s nuances but the artist subtly conveys shifting moods attitudes histories metaphors and so on with clever little flourishes and lovingly precise ATD Makes me want to abandon prose Maybe those hip people murmuring in my ear were right and this is the future of storytelling

  6. Chris_P Chris_P says:

    What if reality as perceived were simply an extention of the self? Wouldn't that color the way each individual experiences the world?That might explain why some people get along so effortlessly while others don't Although people do keep tryingYet despite such predisposition maybe one person's construction of the world could influence someone else's Don't we all at some point or another find ourselves stuck in a certain state? We make friendships fall in love communicate in different ways yet each and every one of us is a seperate universe At least that's how we perceive ourselves Trapped in our own confined space we make believe that there isn't to it than that And one day you lose the one be it by tragedy or negligence or even choice and suddenly the walls collapse and you come to the realization that what you thought you knew was actually a pile of crap on a hot summer day What you thought you felt was only a cover up a big black veil to hide the real deal which is now deep and long since unapproachable But what if it is too late? What if there's not to be any other peaceful spring evening with you sitting next to her holding hands and trying to determine which smell is stronger and sweeter the night flowers' or hers? Will just a memory ever be enough? To live is to exist within a conception of time But to remember is to vacate the very notion of time This is a really uniue and carefully made graphic novel Everything is relevant The colors the fonts the shape of the bubbles you name it Masterfully crafted multi dimensional characters and a simple yet deep story make this graphic novel a small diamond of the genre What I liked most was the fact that it was gripping yet totally realistic No superhero no magic spells just life love and philosophy I also loved the ending because it allowed me to totally relate to the whole conceptDeep moving sweet and apparently unforgettable 45

  7. Jimmy Jimmy says:

    I might have to read this one again to catch all the subtleties of the story What's amazing about this graphic novel is that it is jam packed with ideas but most of the ideas are embedded in the art itself and not in the words some of it is in words but it's like a riff that plays along with the visuals At the same time all these ideas do not in any way make it a gooey dense landscape to slodge through The book is such a pleasure to read filled with so many wide open panels so much white space you will feel like you are standing on top of the Pyrenees In addition the colors here are just amazing usually playing with a very limited palette see above And the versatility of artistic styles he is able to employ and always for a purpose Different characters are drawn in different styles different color schemes and even different fonts in their speech bubbles These tell you so much about each character But he's able to pull it off without being too obvious or cornyI'm stealing these images from Parka BlogsThe story itself is very simple but full of digressions flashbacks and dream seuences Ideas and themes circle and come back repeatedly in different forms In terms of ideas it's wonderfully complex and wonderfully simple at the same time What I like about it is that it feels breezy There was much humor in here as well some of which made me laugh out loud My favorite character was Willy Illium who was drawn in the funniest way I especially liked it when he was drawn as a little babyAs far as the downsides it is a graphic novel of ideas As such there is a feeling that the characters represent ideals that don't really exist in the real world At times the characters seem very real the dialogue is well written and the bodily gestures are so well drawn just spot on but at other times they seem like symbols only of bigger ideas This can be a little frustrating especially if you hope to connect with these characters Also it seems to push these characters into extreme corners whereas I feel like they need room to be complex characters embodying many different ideas and contradictions It seems like Asterio's problems with putting things into tidy eitheror boxes is also an extension of David Mazzucchelli's same impulse Perhaps he was writing about himself a little in that part MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW It is a testament to how distancing the story is that at the end when the asteroid destroys everyone itself a pretty immature narrative device I didn't feel shocked or anything I know this is sounding harsh but it really isn't if you read this without expecting to care much for the characters but only to be stimulated by the visual representation of ideasMore thoughts on the asteroid yes it didn't sit well with me I can't decide if it's a really horrible idea or just a pretty bad idea One thing is that it circles back to the theme of randomness and chance why one brother lived yet the other died Here we have something with the asteroid which would be the taking away of this brother's life but in an unlikely scenario Is it just chance or was there a reason for it? Given all this I still don't think it is justification enough for such an ending because it really does make the whole book too obviously about ideas and ideas aloneLet me know what your thoughts on this are

  8. Tom LA Tom LA says:

    Wow Just finished in one reading session this magical work of art Together with Daytripper this is my all time favorite graphic novel I don't have much to say about it as I don't think I have rationalized it much yet visually it's extremely creative and exciting Rich with inventions and ideas The story reminded me of a Chinese saying Two thirds of what we see is behind our eyes and a lot of this novel is about that crucial aspect of human existence I see this as a love story and among many other things a story about the communication challenges that we experience because of our differences The way humans interact with each other is visualized with such elegance But what I loved the most is that this graphic novel has a living and breathing soul a true soul that you can see much better in the second part I found myself to be really moved towards the end And also I think I found a certain kind of wisdom that sees through selfish attitudes and behaviours as something that needs to be overcome and understood in order to grow up Asterios and Hana are one of the most fascinating and real couples I've ever encountered in fiction Bravo David Straordinario

  9. Jessica Jessica says:

    I don't really understand the hype over this graphic novel I thought it was boring an educated middle aged white man feels like his life has fallen apart so he jumps ship and tries to start over again Maybe I just found his self absorbed personality too off putting but I didn't really feel any sympathy for him or care about his ideas about how the world works In spite of the sadness in it it all reads like an educated middle aged white man's fantasy Asterios Polyp is world renowned in his field he spends his time womanizing but eventually a much younger half Asian woman just can't resist him and marries him and even when she leaves him and his apartment is destroyed in a fire he is immediately able to land a job working at a car repair shop on the strength of his answer to the uestion You ever work on cars before? A little Then he goes and spends an hour at the library reading about car repair so that he can fake his way in his new job Seriously? That's just insulting to anyone who actually works in that field

  10. James Payne James Payne says:

    Pseudo intellectual middlebrow regurgitation of ostensibly interesting Wikipedia culled dichotomies and philosophical conceptions clunkily arranged into a narrative I mean I do not understand how this book received the praise it did Bad bad writing One dimensional characterizations I'm not sure what age group it was written for surely not adults? It reminded me of Paul Krugman's sick burn Newt Gingrich is a stupid man's idea of what a smart person sounds like

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Asterios Polyp ➷ [Reading] ➹ Asterios Polyp By David Mazzucchelli ➬ – Thomashillier.co.uk Hvem er Asterios Polyp Arkitekt professor forfatter ægtemand men det ligger alt sammen i fortiden Nu hvor han er fyldt halvtreds er han en skygge af sig selv men det er en stormfuld nat og et lynneds Hvem er Asterios Polyp Arkitekt professor forfatter ægtemand men det ligger alt sammen i fortiden Nu hvor han er fyldt halvtreds er han en skygge af sig selv men det er en stormfuld nat og et lynnedslag skal til at sende ham ud på en skæbnesvanger rejeEt episk følelsesrigt symbolmættet værk der tegner til at omdefinere den grafiske roman Globe and mail.