Heads or Tails

Heads or Tails

Graphic Novel - 2012
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Carré's elegant short stories read like the gothic, family narratives of Flannery O'Connor or Carson McCullers, but told visually. Poetic rhythms--a coin flip, a circling ferris wheel--are punctuated by elements of melancholy fantasy pushed forward by character-driven, naturalistic dialogue. The stories in Heads Or Tails display a virtuosic breadth of visual styles and color palettes, each in perfect service of the story, and range from experimental one-pagers to short masterpieces like 'The Thing About Madeline' (featured in The Best American Comics 2008), to graphic novellas like 'The Carnival' (featured in David Sedaris' and Dave Eggers' 2010 Best American Nonrequired Reading, originally published in MOME)."--Amazon.com.
Publisher: Seattle, WA : Fantagraphics Books, c2012
ISBN: 9781606995976
1606995979
Characteristics: 1 v. (unpaged) : chiefly ill. (some col.) ; 23 cm

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r
redtayres
Sep 29, 2017

A graphic novel full of short stories that might leave you scratching your head in wonder...but then you're on to the next one. As graphic novels go, this one didn't capture my attention the way the better ones do but if you're looking for a book to pick up, read a bit, and put down until you again have time, this'll do. I finished it and really couldn't tell you a single story I read (there's a lot and most are quite short) but that doesn't mean I wholly disliked it.

m
mclarjh
May 30, 2016

Terrific illustrations, absurd stories.

g
gendeg
Jan 18, 2015

Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré is an odd collection of short stories that visually strike a light, whimsical tone but are deceptively dark, even bordering on gothic. There is a streak of breathy melancholy in the surreal snippets created by Carré that reminded me of something from a Marc Chagall painting.

Dreams are often thought of as illogical but despite their bizarre topsy-turvyness, there's always an emotional rationale, right? Dream logic. Lilli Carré's stories blur that line between the mundane of waking life and the weird of some alternate reality of that waking life. In "Wishy Washy," a smug art critic who judges flower arrangements for a living wakes up one day and finds he has lost his ability to judge. That one was profound. In "The Thing About Madeleine," a woman encounters her double sleeping in her bed. She lets this other woman take over her life and enjoys watching a 'better' version of herself: “… like watching a movie with the sound turned low.” In "The Flip," a woman tosses a coin…and waits and waits. When the coin never reappears, she is stuck, frozen in her decision-making. The most complex story in the collection is "The Carnival," told in 32 pages, about a man (kind of like the woman in the doppelganger story) who goes through life feeling dull and miserable, and then suddenly wakes up in a kind of alternate world--he is awakened. "The Carnival" ends with ambiguity that makes sense on some dream logic level.

Carré's artwork is quite elegant, if quirky and twee. But what makes it special is how each panel is suffused with those sly, surreal twists and subconscious desires. Kinda cool, kinda creepy. It's creepy for the outward fact that it's not trying to be creepy. It's unsettling for its utter nonchalance. At one point a character happens to start levitating into the air. She says, "These hot winds…what a bother. I suppose I could give in just for a minute or two...." As one critic on NPR put it: "The whole collection has the feel of a dream in which remembering how to fly is as simple as forgetting that you can't."

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