I’ve been a fan of Lucy Knisley’s since probably around 2007, actually, which is when she published this travelogue of her time in Paris with her mother, when both of them were celebrating special birthdays. Lucy was turning twenty-two, just on the verge of graduating from college, and her mother was turning fifty. They spent five weeks living in a tiny Parisian apartment, going to see museums, and eating mounds and mounds of French food.
Honestly, I don’t even remember where or how I found her blog, but I’m so glad I did. It’s been so much fun following her evolution as a cartoonist from back in the good old days before she was a published author, to now when she’s written so many beautiful graphic memoirs. If you haven’t checked out her stuff, you might try her website, or just pick up Relish, a memoir of “her life in food”. I’ve been meaning to read French Milk, her first published book, for quite some time. I’m glad I finally got around to it. Her writing and cartooning as always is a delight, but it was actually really interesting to see the differences in her style from back in 2006 when I’m so used to her later stuff.
The whole thing is in black and white, first of all, and one of my favorite parts of her art is her use of color, so that was an automatic downside. The second thing I noticed, besides the differences in her actual drawings, was that there was less of a thematic throughline in this book than in her later ones. She’s gotten much more skilled at tying together random parts into a whole than when this was published. It really is just a record of her time and feelings during her journey. What still shines through is her emotion, though. I love the way she uses the medium of cartooning to convey such non-cartoonish feelings and experiences. In this case, she touches on growing up, the transition from youth to adulthood, mortality, family, her relationship with her mother, and friendship just to name a few. It’s a little scattered because she herself was scattered at the time she wrote it.
I’m so excited to finally dive into her latest two books, both of which I checked out at the same time as this one for a mini-Lucy Knisley binge. I’m also SUPER excited about her book coming out later this year, which will cover her experiences with the whole process of getting married.
Seriously. Check her stuff out. She’s funny, she’s honest, she loves food and cats. Once she designed a hot dogs of different cities t-shirt and I bought if for my roommate. She is the real deal.