Monday, February 9, 2015

book review: Displacement by Lucy Knisley

The backstory: Lucy Knisley is perhaps my favorite graphic memoirist. I've previously read and enjoyed French Milk, Relish, and An Age of License.

The basics: Displacement is a travel memoir of Knisley's experience on a cruise ship with her ailing grandparents (who are over 90 years old.) She also intersperses entries from her grandfather's old army journal, which she read on the cruise.

My thoughts: I have never been on a cruise. Part of me wants to go, but another part of me remembers I don't like crowds. And while I love the water, I am also claustrophobic. Would being on a boat I can't leave feel free or confining? Even before reading Displacement, I'm certain I would not want to be the sole caregiver for two people over 90 while on a cruise. The set-up of this memoir sounds like a quirky independent comedy, and I was curious to see how Lucy and her grands, as she calls them, fared.

One of the things I love about Knisley's graphic memoirs is how immersive they are. She captures experiences so well, and I find I equally enjoy her take on places I've also visited and those I haven't. While this graphic memoir is very much about the cruise, it's more meditative than I expected. Knisley excels at sharing her emotions and thoughts, but Displacement digs deep into issues bigger than Knisley's own experience: "Constant consciousness of old age's frailties really makes me appreciate youth. It's so interesting that we evolved to respond with automatic care to the young...while old age repels, makes us afraid of our own mortality." While still being her story, in Displacement Knisley's grandparents are also major characters, and she scrutinizes both her relationship with them as well as their traits, the positive and the negative.

Favorite passage: "Whenever I travel through crowded places, I'm struck by how human beings en masse are so incredibly hideous, while individual humans can be so heartbreakingly beautiful. Congregated: ugly, ubiquitous, and repellent. Individually: nuanced, intricate, beautiful, and unknowable. Fragile, separate, singular...fascinating."

The verdict: The interplay of her grandfather's journals with his present self is a sobering portrait of aging. Knisley's reflections are particularly poignant in this memoir, and I loved her combination of whimsy and wisdom.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 168 pages
Publication date: February 8, 2015
Source: publisher

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Displacement from Amazon (no Kindle edition.)

Want more? Visit Lucy Knisley's website, follow her on Twitter and Instagram

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  1. I haven't read anything by Lucy Knisley, but I have several of her books on my TBR. For some reason, my library doesn't carry her books, so I'll have to look for some other way to get them.

  2. Definitely looking forward to this one! In fact, I think I'll see if I have a B&N coupon and go ahead and order it. I just finished An Age of License this weekend, and it was wonderful!


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