There were so many characters in this graphic novel. A barrage of detailed interactions, crowded observations and overlapping interviews. Sacco is giving us (the readers) snapshot after snapshot of his experience with Palestine and the people there. With such a collection of characters, it becomes clear that this graphic novel is not about the individuals telling the stories but rather the stories themselves.
You’d think that having so many characters would lessen the likelihood of emotional attachment. Sacco himself clearly tries to keep himself emotionally distant from the atrocities he’s hearing about and witnessing. He presents this world as objectively as he can. I, however, found Sacco’s cut and dry portrayal of information caused me to become more emotionally attached. The hopelessness in the Palestinian’s words. It cut into me all on its own. Sacco didn’t need to add anything.
My reading experience also added to my emotional vulnerability. It was chaotic. It took me some time to get used to the organization. It took me some time to get used to the “crowd scenes.” It took me some time. Period. This novel was a slower read than the other three we’ve read so far. Text heavy. Very detailed illustration. Difficult subject matter. You really have to take your time with it.
I think Sacco knew that. I think the decisions he made were masterfully intentional. He could have drawn in a more simplistic style. He could have used more traditional comic spreads. He could have prioritized one story over another. But he didn’t. He challenged us. He forced us to slow down and take everything in. Take in the reality of this place and the people in it. What happened/happens there.
Ultimately, I feel drained.
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