I had not heard of Merrill Markoe before I asked for a reader copy of, We Saw Scenery: the Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe. (Later I realized I must have heard her writing due to her resume.) I misplaced the copy I received (story of my life: I would lose my head if it wasn’t screwed on) but found it the other day (it was hiding under my desk…don’t ask why I was under my desk….)
I will now investigate other works because what a fudging (only I didn’t say fudging) trip it was. I do not think Markoe is 100% sane. But that is what makes them so wonderful. The book is reminiscent of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home style, but a lot less serious or dark. Yes, there are similar situations (abuse, self-loathing, siblings) but whereas Bechdel’s tone was serious, with humor occasionally, Markoe is humor with serious occasionally. Yet, the point is loud and clear. It is a no holds bar read about the thoughts and feelings about growing up.
Set in the late 1950’s and through the 1960’s, by looking back/reading the pages of old diaries (with perfect commentary given by Markoe “today”) we see the life of a kid growing up. Markoe shows us the history of the country, the influences they experienced (friends, lack-there-of, television, family) and the growing pains (as said brother pains, parent pains and the trying to fit in, until you realize you shouldn’t). Peppered with “Flash Nows” (Markoe talking to her younger self, trying to give advice) add to the humor. After all, even if we could give advice to our younger self, would our younger self take it?
Illustrations that can be a bit awkward (to be polite) create the visual atmosphere. Called a graphic novel but is a non-fiction novel that should be in the humor section. It is a novel with illustrations, but not in the traditional graphic novel format. It is cozy, makes you think and probably could make you thankful for your own mixed up situation.
For adults, but older teens could enjoy as well, but due to some drugs and sexual situations, not for everyone.