Chicken with Plums
My first assumption without reading another review to determine what the public at large thinks – is that most people will start out saying “This isn’t nearly as good as Persepolis.”
Well sure – but this is also an amusing, surprising and bittersweet love story unfolding mostly over the course of six days, in which the main character Nasser Ali Khan has decided that his life is no longer worth living, and so he plots to die in his bed.
The reader is led to believe that this decision is the result of his broken tar – symbolizing the breaking of his musical and artistic passion. But there is obviously something more going on, and a morose love story unfolds the deeper Nasser Ali is drawn into his depression and impending death.
One of the few criticisms I have of the book – is that I wished for a little more back story to Nasser earlier on. He’s a sad sack character, and hard to get on board with emotionally. I didn’t really start caring about him until he had his first flashback and emotional impulse towards his favorite daughter. He treated his own son harshly – didn’t appear to love his wife – or even give much thought to how his death might impact his family.
Of course – it all makes sense by the end of the story – earlier scenes come full circle, and all the secrets of Nasser Ali are revealed.
I found myself enjoying the book much more on a second read, with the possession of the complete story. I suppose that is it’s beauty, but I was more than a little put out having to suffer along with Nasser through the first 2/3rds.
The artistry is gorgeous – I really dig the way Satrapi uses her black and white inking – the black is so heavy, that instead of black outlining – the absent white spaces create the outlines. The white is the absence, instead of the
She also does fun stuff with patterns and lines, and her illustrations always remind me of wood-carvings.
Her work is very distinctive, and I do enjoy her style.
There’s not much else to say – it’s an easy read – nothing too emotionally searing or complicated. There is plenty of Satrapi’s trademark humor and wisdom to be had. That being said – I would recommend this regardless of the author.
However – because it is the distant cousin of Persepolis, it will be accused of NOT BEING Persepolis. Well, not everything an artist makes is meant to rock the world. But there’s something to be said for being able to tell an intriguing story with imaginative visuals.
Another compliment for Satrapi – she has an uncanny ability to make a simple family story into a romantic, if depressing, fable. And while we all must come to terms with the fact that it’s not her most famous work – it’s still well worth the read. 🙂
Much Love, Mindy C