“Depressed. Repressed. Obsessed.” by Lisa Brown is a hilarious abstract look at the themes, characters, and conflicts found in literary greats. The title is taken from “The Yellow Wallpaper,” which, if you’ve read it, you know that depression, repression, and obsession are key to the story.
Most of the literary summaries/analyses are told in three panels. At first it made me want more, but then I realized it was brilliant to stick to this method because it’s like Twitter; the more you keep in short and sweet, the more you have to distill your idea and you can’t include chaff.
Some of my favorites include “Jane Eyre” where the passion that ignites between Jane and Rochester is basically a foreshadowing for the house’s demise (hint: if you read it, you’d know what I’m talking about). “Lord of the Flies” shows us that parental supervision is important if you don’t want a bunch of pre-adolescent boys to turn evil quickly. Or Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” where we learn to not eat meat.
I could go on and on telling you how Brown has condensed powerful books into hilarious summaries, but that would take away from your own reading of this jovial tome. The abstract skills it takes to determine three panels that summarize a book are important to reading. It’s something I try to foster in my students. Inspired by Brown’s talent, I’m curious to have my students develop their own three-panel drawings for the books they read. I think this would be a great way to see what they understand from books, give them some agency for telling me what they know, as well as showing their own talents and personalities.