I was incredibly interested in the idea of an illustrated memoir, so I picked up Bruce Eric Kaplan's I Was a Child this weekend.
Bruce Eric Kaplan is best known for his cartoons in The New Yorker, but in this lovely, whimsical remembrance of a piece, he explores the bits and pieces of his memory that make up his childhood. It is a sharp reminder of how we all remember our own childhoods -- rather than as a flowing narrative, it comes back in paragraphs and anecdotes, often accompanied by flashbulb memories. Kaplan captures that type of memory as he explores his relationship with his parents, his childhood, and his home.
There was something so indelibly charming about this memoir, in the way that Kaplan was able to tell his story in small illustrations and with only a paragraph or two of prose. My particularly favorite one was when his father insisted on locking the door every night with a hook and eye lock which would keep out absolutely no one in the event of an unfortunate break in. Nonetheless, every night, the hook and eye was fastened. I loved the stories of his parents, and of the memories of the trips on the New Jersey turnpike as an adult.
Growing older is hard in some ways, great in others. The hardest part of getting older is your parents getting older. Just a few years ago I looked at my parents and realized they weren't in their 40's anymore. That is the perpetual age I will always see them as since that's what they were in my 20's when I got to know them best. But I'm now in my 30's, and my parents are pushing 60. (Well, my dad is already 60, so there. Sorry to out you on my blog, G.) My parents look great for their age, and if I look even a fraction as good as my mom does right now, my future rich husband will have a trophy wife on his hands. (Wait a second, wouldn't he already???) What resonated with me the most right now in my life was Kaplan's memories of his parents, both as a child and reflecting on them as an adult. I found it moving and touching.
This was a lovely memoir that I was able to read in a day. I will keep it and go back to it in another year, because I think it will speak to me in a different way at another time in my life.
For purchase below.