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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Devon Code launches Involuntary Bliss with guests Jeff Miller, Sean Michaels, & Mary di Michele




Quand: Jeudi, 3 août à 19h
Où: Librairie Drawn & Quarterly
Addresse: 211 rue Bernard Ouest

Gratuit!

BookThug, in partnership with Librairie Drawn & Quarterly present an evening with Devon Code, author of Involuntary Bliss, with special guests Sean Michaels and Mary di Michele. Hosted by Jacob Wren.

Devon Code is the award-winning author of fiction, short stories, and critical reviews. In a Mist, Code’s first collection of short stories, was longlisted for the 2008 ReLit Award and was included on The Globe and Mail’s “Best Books” list. In 2010, Code was the recipient of the Journey Prize for his story “Uncle Oscar.” His reviews of literary fiction have appeared in The Globe and Mail, National Post, Quill & Quire, and Canadian Notes & Queries. Originally from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Code lives in Peterborough, Ontario. Involuntary Bliss is Code’s first novel.

Sean Michaels was born in Stirling, Scotland, in 1982. Founder of the pioneering mp3blog Said the Gramophone, he has written for publications including The Observer, The Walrus, Pitchfork, McSweeney’s and Kinfolk. Sean’s debut novel, Us Conductors, received the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize. He lives in Montreal.

Mary di Michele, poet, novelist and member of the collaborative writing group Yoko’s Dogs, is the author of 12 books. Her titles include: Stranger in You, Poems Selected and New, and the novel, Tenor of Love; her awards: first prize in C.B.C.’s literary competition and the Malahat Review’s long poem contest. 
Monday, 26 June 2017

Ce que Julie lit cet été



Uncomfortably Happy, Yeon-sik Hong, Drawn & Quarterly

Suite à l'arrêt des activités de la maison d'édition Ego Comme X, la version française d'Histoire d'un couple n'était plus disponible. Pas grave: en voici la très belle version anglophone fraîchement sortie pour l'été. Uncomfortably Happy raconte l'installation de l'auteur Yeon-sik Hong et de sa femme dans la campagne sud-coréenne, leurs difficultés financières et familiales, leur amour des petites choses... Un livre qui nous rappelle que le bonheur n'est jamais exactement comme on l'avait imaginé, et qu'il se cultive tel un jardin imparfait.

Everything is Flammable, Gabrielle Bell, Uncivilized Books

On lit Gabrielle Bell comme on prend des nouvelles d'une amie. Mais d'une amie particulière, qui raconte ses histoires comme personne! Bell est toujours drôle et captivante, honnête et pourtant parfois proche de l'affabulation. Comment va l'anxiété? Le féminisme? Les plants de tomates? Ta mère dont la maison a brûlé? Définitivement l'une des auteures auxquelles je m'identifie le plus.


You & a bike & a road, Eleanor Davis, Koyama Press

Pour échapper à ses idées noires, Eleanor Davis décide de traverser le Sud des États-Unis en vélo. Elle partira de la maison de ses parents en Arizona pour rejoindre son domicile en Géorgie. Le récit de son périple - ses douleurs aux genoux, ses recherches d'endroits pour camper, ses rencontres et ses découragements - se mêle à un fond plus politique. En effet, elle plante sa tente sur des chemins qu'empruntent les immigrants mexicains... Les hélicoptères tournent régulièrement au dessus de sa tête.




Catharsis, Collectif, Les bêtes d'hier

Ce recueil féministe de Montréal, composé de textes créatifs et théoriques, est une véritable surprise. Avec pour sujet la santé mentale, il aborde entre autres la considération pour les femmes dans la psychiatrie contemporaine, la place du personnel dans les milieux militants, les écrivaines entre génie et folie, le care et la nécessité du sisterhood... Bien édité et très pertinent.




Le principe du cumshot, le désir des femmes sous l'emprise des clichés sexuels, Lili Boisvert, VLB

Si son titre annonce un contenu explicite, Le principe du cumshot est cependant davantage un ouvrage sociologique que croustillant. Même si Lili Boisvert énumère des faits déjà bien connus des femmes engagées (tel que leur obsession pour le corps, leur rôle de proie dans la dynamique chasseur-chassée de la séduction, etc.), l'auteure dresse du sexisme inconscient contemporain un portrait un peu décourageant. Elle prouve qu'il faudra pour renverser le paternalisme un profond et difficile changement, plus institutionnel qu'individuel, et que celui-ci s'est à peine mis en marche.



Le bal des absentes, Julie Boulanger et Amélie Paquet, La Mèche

Julie Boulanger et Amélie Paquet forme un couple de professeures de littérature. Alarmées par la nécessité de faire découvrir des livres d'écrivaines femmes dans leurs classes (ceux-ci sont encore très rarement étudiées), elles ont démarré un projet de blogue pour raconter leurs expériences d'enseignement de Jean Rhys, Nelly Arcan, Virginie Despentes, Pattie O'Green,.. Le livre rassemble un large éventail d'essais qui ravit l'amoureuse des livres que je suis, et sera sans doute fort utile à tous les profs concernés par l'établissement d'une certaine parité.




Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designer, Poets & Philosophers, Leonard Koren, Imperfect Publishing

Vous aimez l'imparfait, l'amateur, le fait-à-la-main, l'inachevé, tout ce qui est précieux mais ne brille pas? Remerciez les japonais d'en avoir fait une esthétique: le wabi-sabi. Ce livre qui vulgarise le concept, est à lire, peut-être, en parallèle avec The Queer Art of Failure de Jack Halberstam.



Belleza y Felicidad, Fernanda Laguna et Cecilia Pavon, San Paper Press

C'est ma collègue Daphné qui m'a vanté la première le travail de ces deux poètes argentines. Je pioche au hasard dans les textes courts des deux amies, les rationnant pour les mois à venir, afin que cela dure longtemps car c'est délicieux! L'édition juxtapose les versions espagnoles originales et leurs traductions, un choix bienvenu étant donné la subtilité de leurs univers.




Montréal insolite et secrète, Philippe Renault, éditions Jonglez

Voici une proposition de lecture pour ceux qui sont bloqués à Montréal pendant les mois chauds: pourquoi ne pas en profiter pour observer votre ville avec les yeux d'un.e touriste? Ce guide des endroits insolites présente plus d'une centaine de lieux et monuments que vous ne connaissez probablement pas. Entre autres, à découvrir: le musée de médecine dentaire, le jardin du monastère des Hospitalières, le potager du Palais de Congrès, la pagode Tu Quang...




Grèce, le livre de cuisine, Vefa Alexiodou, Phaidon

Je profiterai également de mon été en ville pour me mettre à la cuisine. J'ai parcouru notre rayon en me demandant lequel de ces livres je m'offrirais, et mon choix s'est arrêté sur la gastronomie grecque. Défi: apprendre à préparer de la pieuvre! La moussaka et la soupe du pêcheur n'ont pas l'air mal non plus...
Sunday, 25 June 2017

Summer Reads 2017: Kira

After a hiatus during the school year, I'm back at Librairie D+Q for the summer. I cannot begin to tell you how good it feels to be able to choose what books to read again, and to have some precious leisure time in which to read them. What a true luxury to have such freedom! Here are some of the books that have made their way into my mitts now that my textbooks are reverse-hibernating:



The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (Arundhati Roy)

I have been chomping at the bit waiting for this book to come out, Arundhati Roy’s first work of fiction in 20 years! I first read her Booker-winning debut novel, The God of Small Things some dozen years ago while in a small town in rural Kerala, very close to where the bulk of the narrative takes place, and I was absolutely spellbound. The unforgettable story stuck with me in a way that few have, thanks to her masterful storytelling, character development, and poetic prose style. Though I’ve admired her activism and non-fiction work in the subsequent years, I’ve been dreaming of delving back into a world painted by Roy ever since!



Videogames for Humans: Twine Authors in Conversation (Merritt Kopas)

What initially caught my eye was this book’s very handsome cover, illustrated by Michael DeForge. Twine, an open-source software, allows game creators to make interactive, text-based games (somewhat reminiscent of “choose your own adventure” books) without requiring extensive programming knowledge. Editor Merritt Kopas assigned each contributor a game, and had them document their playthrough and reflections, resulting in a satisfying fusion of analog and digital storytelling. It was fun to vicariously play along with the authors as they explored a wide range of experiences, including cruising in gay bars, living with depression, and turning into a 10-storey tall, capitalism-destroying demon, to name but a few!


Uncomfortably, Happily (Yeon-sik Hong)

This memoir of the author and his wife's move to the countryside outside Seoul is a slow-burn, but so satisfying. The young couple moves to escape the stress of the city, trusting that a bucolic atmosphere will inspire them to work on their respective cartooning projects. Though their new mountainside home is idyllic in many ways, country living also proves to be a constant battle with the elements, lack of funds, a daunting commute, and endless creative clashes with the editor at the protagonist's soul-sucking job back in Seoul. I particularly love the way Hong draws the couple's dog and three cats, who delight in their newfound easy access to the wilderness even more than their human caregivers do! A thoroughly charming book all around, it's definitely one of my favourite recent D+Q releases.


Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (Roxane Gay)

The inimitable Roxane Gay is back with this raw, unflinching, difficult memoir of her ongoing struggles with food and weight. Herein she details her complicated relationship with eating, which became a strategic way to protect herself in the wake of a trauma caused by being raped by a group of boys when she was a child. Honestly, it is tough to read at times, but Gay's excellent writing is as compelling as ever, and her willingness to delve into her own vulnerability is admirable.


Art Sex Music (Cosey Fanni Tutti)

Full disclosure: I don't know so much about Cosey Fanni Tutti, beyond the fact that she was a member of Throbbing Gristle, but a cursory glance at her Wikipedia page piqued my interest. Her memoir sounds like she has led a fascinating life as an avant-garde performance artist, sex worker, mother, and musician. Very excited to read about all of her endeavours in greater detail!


Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions (Valeria Luiselli)

In addition to being an author, Valeria Luiselli has worked as an interpreter for migrant children apprehended crossing the USA-Mexico border. This book is based on the series of 40 questions each child has to answer as part of the bureaucratic process that will determine whether they will be able stay in the USA or be sent back to the countries they've fled. It's a bleak and distressing read which confronts the stark contrast between the self-styled image of the USA as a country that welcomes immigrants vs. the way that migrant children are actually treated.


All That the Rain Promises and More (David Arora)

This cult classic on edible mushroom species boasts what has got to be a contender for one of the best cover images ever! (Watch out, Daniil Kharms, David Arora is coming for you!) I was pleasantly surprised to find that the information, illustrations, and photos within are equally delightful. Despite being an avid mushroom-hunter at one point, I have yet to experience the mycological offerings of the Montreal region, and hope to remedy that this season if I can. This pocket-sized guide will be of great service in the bush, and is sure to "put the fun in fungi," as it claims!



Cats and Plants (Stephen Eichhorn)

The title says it all! Chicago-based artist Stephen Eichhorn has taken cats and plants, two truly delightful muses, as the subjects for his book of collages, and the results are as spectacular as you could hope! It's published by the uber-cool creative agency and imprint Zioxla, whose earlier Strange Plants books which celebrated plants in contemporary art were also store favourites. A joy to behold!



Eaten Back to Life: Essays (Jonah Campbell)

Jonah Campbell's previous book, Food and Trembling was super enjoyable, and I'm excited to see what he's got on offer for his latest collection of essays on food. Though I appreciate a tasty meal as much as the next guy, I'm definitely someone who eats to live rather than the reverse, and I find the constant need to fill my gullet to sustain life to be, more often than not, a banal and tedious affair, so Campbell's ability to make this topic not only interesting but downright fun to a reader with no particular culinary leanings is no mean feat! His love for potato chips (and his ability to wax poetic about them) is matched only by his fondness for metal, as evidenced by the nod to Cannibal Corpse's death metal classic album in the book's title. Looking forward to delving into this over a nice glass of summer-appropriate wine!


Crawl Space (Jesse Jacobs)

The psychedelic colours of the cover drew me in to Jesse Jacobs' latest graphic novel, out from the consistently awesome Koyama Press. Turns out that this rainbow-hued multiverse is accessible by way of the laundry machine in the basement of the teenage protagonist's home, and is populated by an array of weird and beautiful beings. Stylistically and thematically, it's reminiscent of Adventure Time, which makes sense since Jacobs has worked on the show. As interesting conceptually as it is visually striking, this is a real gem for any curious cosmonauts!
Saturday, 24 June 2017


Célébrons la Fête nationale du Québec. Happy Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day 2017!

Nous sommes ouvert! We are indeed open.


Pour l'occasion, nous avons mis des auteurs locaux dans la vitrine.


To celebrate we are highlighting local artists & themes.


 Venir nous voir! Come say hi!
Friday, 23 June 2017

Summer Reads 2017: Alyssa

Grab a book, a picnic blanket, some sunglasses and go to town.


Too Much and Not the Mood (Durga Chew-Bose)
We recently had the pleasure of launching Durga Chew-Bose's debut collection, and I can't wait to settle into these thoughtful, inventive prose-poetry essays on memory, family, pop culture, and so much more. The writing takes its time, says exactly what it wants to say, and creates a whole that is entirely more than the sum of its topics.

Hunger (Roxane Gay)
The new Roxane Gay is here! Hunger has been hotly anticipated in the store ever since we hosted an event during which Gay discussed this then-upcoming project: a memoir of her body, food, self-care, and trauma. Told with an undeniable care and vulnerability, this deeply personal work is touching, unflinchingly honest, and so very important.

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud (Anne Helen Petersen)
I've been a huge fan of Anne Helen Petersen's for a long time, always enjoying her sociological take on fame, celebrity culture, and the tabloid industry. For this new work, she turns her gaze to women who have, in one way or another, transgressed, writing critically and compassionately on topics as varied as Madonna's age, Melissa McCarthy's shape, and Nicki Minaj's confident sexuality.


Placeholders (Michael DeForge)
A struggling town plays host to tech giant Aluren to revitalize its economy in this newest DeForge zine, and things fly swiftly off the rails once the corporation begins experimenting with so-called "soft storage," or storage of digital information inside organic matter. In typical DeForgian fashion, the climax is poignant, thrilling, and charmingly banal, an endearing mix of the surreal and mundane.

So Pretty / Very Rotten (Jane Mai and An Nguyen)
Another recent store event had us launching this amazing collection of essays, interviews, and comics that explore the nuances of Lolita fashion and Japanese cute culture. Thorough and researched, but so very intimate and beautiful, the book is both love letter to Lolita, and dissection of why, exactly, the subculture has stuck around for the last forty years.
 


Boundless (Jillian Tamaki)
The Eisner and Governor General-winning Jillian Tamaki is back with the beautiful, incisive Boundless, a collection of comic stories that explore the links, and gaps, between real world and virtual. Showcasing her skill as an artist and a storyteller, Tamaki's characters, as they shrink slowly into nothingness or become obsessed with a mirror Facebook, find themselves distanced from, or transcending, their identities, cultures, relationships, and selves.
Bonus! I'll be hosting our next graphic novel book club on July 12, where we'll be discussing Boundless!

Uncomfortably Happily (Yeon-Sik Hong)
When two artists from Seoul move away from the city hubbub to the much quieter countryside, they are totally unprepared for the new set of challenges they'll need to face. With smooth, minimal illustration, Yeon-Sik Hong tells a story as heartwarming as it is flush with emotional depth, making this memoir of a married couple trying to make it work one of the summer's must-reads.



The Sellout (Paul Beatty)
This darkly funny novel has been on my to-read list since it came out, and a Man Booker win only solidified my decision. Beatty has crafted flawless satire, the story of slavery, gentrification, economic inequality, and blackness in America. Beatty's protagonist, Me, in his attempt to put his low income neighbourhood back on the map, lives through a story that is astute, challenging, entertaining, and astoundingly relevant.

The Idiot (Elif Batuman)
I'm about a hundred pages into Elif Batuman's account of a first year at university, and am immensely enjoying protagonist Selin's warmth, introspection, and attempts at balancing the sheer joy of learning with not knowing exactly what to do with her life. Meandering and meditative, the novel is nevertheless crystal clear in its depiction of higher education in the late 90s, with all the work, friendship, and first love implied.

The Babysitter at Rest (Jen George)
Kirkus Reviews called The Babysitter at Rest a "surgical examination of being young, female, and unfulfilled," so I'm already sold. This five story collection weaves a sardonic, cutting web of characters in the process of becoming, of women living in the amorphous spaces before adulthood. At times surreal, always emotionally deft, this book is one I can't wait to start.
Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Out Today! Kitaro 3 : The Great Tanuki War!


Hey pssst! Kitaro: The Great Tanuki War is out today!! Please flip your manga over to start reading! Monsters munching on buildings are meant to be read from right to left.

Reading Kitaro is a great introduction to the work of one of the most revered Japanese cartoonists of the twentieth century, Shigeru Mizuki, not to mention the yokai spirit folklore specific to Japan!


The new Kitaro is full of yokai, those adorable supernatural demons found in Japanese folklore. It showcases "the golden age of the Kitaro stories" and an appendix from the translator, giving insightful historic background.

Enjoy!


Sunday, 18 June 2017

Ce que Daphné lit cet été!

C'est l'été, c'est l'heure du rosé, mais surtout de la lecture! INDULGE yourself m'a crié quelqu'un qui passait sous mon balcon. 


The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington, Leonora Carrington 

Depuis que j'ai échappé de la sauce brune sur mon exemplaire, je n'ai pas le choix de le lire (et de l'acheter), mais il me semble que la sauce brune convient parfaitement à ce recueil. En effet, dès la première nouvelle, Carrington y parle d'une hyène en talons hauts et d'une odeur de putréfaction.

J'ai aussi acheté The Milk of Dreams, l'album pour enfants de cette peintre surréaliste née en 1917. Je n'ai pas su résister, surtout parce que Carrington y raconte l'histoire d'un éléphant qui fait caca dans une tasse de thé! C'est exactement ce genre d'univers-là que je voudrais faire découvrir à un bébé. Il apprendrait à dire "J'ai peur" avant de dire "maman" et c'est parfait comme ça. Moi aussi j'ai peur.

On peut lire une des nouvelles de Carrington ici.

Hunger, by Roxane Gay

J'ai commencé à lire les mémoires de Gay, celle qui nous a offert le recueil d'essais Bad Feminist en 2014. Violée à l'âge de 12 ans, l'auteure se met alors à manger de gigantesques quantités de nourriture, dans l'espoir de se construire un bouclier de chair, une forme de protection qui la rendrait moins vulnérable, parce qu'indésirable aux yeux de ses agresseurs. Hunger est un livre qui s'intéresse à la question de l'obésité. Roxane Gay est une auteure que j'aime parce qu'elle ne fait pas de compromis. Sa prose est limpide, agréable et nécessaire.

Book of Mutter, Kate Zambreno

Le tout dernier de Zambreno, l'auteure de Heroines Cette fois, c'est une narrative non-fiction à la forme brève, presque "cellulaire", clin d'oeil aux sculptures "cellule" de Louise Bourgeois. Un recueil mélancolique comme il se doit, que j'imagine aussi truffé de références, d'observations de toutes sortes. Une réflexion critique sur le deuil qui dit-on, rappelle la plume, le ton, la manière de: Roland Barthes, Henry Darger, et Louise Bourgeois, en autres. Prometteur!

A Hotel With My Name, Cecilia Pavon

"I am writing again surrounded by people on drugs, but
I didn't take any. With Gonzalo, who is wearing jeans
He took horse tranquilizers, (...)

He looks like a poor wounded angel
a poor, helpless animal.
Why did you take that Gonzalo?

To try, just to try."

Pavon est née en Argentine en 1973. Je crois qu'elle pourrait être ma tante, mais j'aimerais mieux qu'elle soit mon amie. Je voudrais écrire avec elle, fumer avec elle, ou bien essayer d'arrêter (de fumer) avec elle.


So Pretty, Very Rotten, Jane Mai & An NGuyen
So Pretty, Very Rotten est une bande dessinée hybride entrecoupée d'essais. Elle aborde la mode Lolita dans toutes ses contradictions et ses complexités. Naviguant entre fille et femme, la lolita est un produit de la société de consommation, une accro du shopping. Or, elle oppose paradoxalement à cette même société une résistance douce. Poussant l'extravagance et la coquetterie jusqu'à leur paroxysme, la lolita revendique une identité déviante qui se construit hors du regard masculin.

Sauf que j'ai rien dit, Lily Pinsonneault
Une lecture d'été géniale et une nouvelle auteure québécoise à découvrir. J'aime le style de Pinsonneault, qui écrit dans une langue imagée, avec une pointe d'autodérision. L'auteure y raconte l'amour qui ne trouve jamais de conclusion, l'être convoité qui finit par ne plus répondre aux textos. Histoire universelle, peut-être et qu'il fait bon relire dans les mots de Lily Pinsonneault.


Boundless, Jillian Tamaki
Tamaki est une des meilleures bédéistes canadiennes à l'heure actuelle. Boundless, son tout dernier recueil de nouvelles, est peuplé de personnages fluides, bizarres, intrigants. Il y a cette femme qui du jour au lendemain, se met à rapetisser, ou bien cette autre qui entame une relation compliquée avec un avatar Facebook. Boundless contient aussi la meilleure fiction que j'ai pu lire à ce jour sur la question-l’obsession-la malédiction des punaises de lit.

How to Travel Without Seeing : Dispatches From the New Latin America, Andrés Neuman

En tournée pour faire la promotion de son roman, Neuman entreprend de rendre compte de son voyage en Amérique latine par le biais de notes succinctes sur chaque endroit qu'il visite. Il dit dépeindre l'essence du tourisme moderne, soit l'acte de "voyager, sans ne rien voir". S'ensuit une succession de réflexions, non pas tant sur le voyage, mais sur l'ambivalence inhérente au voyage, ses contradictions. Un "récit de voyage" atypique qui est aussi traversé de réflexions sur la littérature de l'Amérique latine!


After Kathy Acker: A literary biography, Chris Kraus
20 ans après la mort d'Acker, Chris Kraus entreprend la biographie de cette auteure géniale, atypique, cette punk littéraire grandiose et quelque peu oubliée.

"In this first, fully authorized, biography, Chris Kraus approaches Acker both as a writer and as a member of the artistic communities from which she emerged. At once forensic and intimate, After Kathy Acker traces the extreme discipline and literary strategies Acker used to develop her work, and the contradictions she longed to embody."


Mucus In My Pineal Gland, Juliana Huxtable
Premier recueil pour l'artiste et auteure Juliana Huxtable, le livre regroupe poèmes et essais sur le genre, la politique, la "whiteness" et la sexualité.
Je suis déjà charmée par le titre (du mucus?! Une glande!?) et par les motifs abstraits et brun de la couverture. Super hâte de m'y plonger!
Saturday, 17 June 2017

Father's Day!

ICYMI, tomorrow is Father's Day! If you're scrambling to think of a nice gift for dear old Dad, not to worry; we've got you covered with our list of 10 suggestions for different types of Dads...

An eye-catching new edition of this classic, for musical Dads

Observation notebooks on trees or astronomy, for nature-loving, outdoorsy Dads

A great kitchen resource for culinary Dads

Un bon guide pour les Papas qui font du vélo


A stunning Pettibon monograph for cool, art-punk Dads

Comics for Dads with a sense of humour about parenthood

A physics primer for inquisitive, science-dabbling Dads

A beautiful letter from father to son, for non-fiction loving Dads

Let's not forget something especially for Cat Daddies!

Last but not least, you can't go wrong with a thoughtful card (or one that gently makes fun of Dad jokes!)

In addition to the suggestions above, our shelves are bursting with books and stationery for Dads of all kinds. So come by today or tomorrow and snag a nice gift for your sweet papa!


Thursday, 15 June 2017

New D&Q: Uncomfortably Happily by Yeon-Sik Hong!


D&Q's latest title, Uncomfortably Happily by South Korean comic artist Yeon-Sik Hong, just came out on Tuesday! Originally published in two volumes in 2012, D&Q's English translation (by Hellen Jo) collects both in an almost 600-page omnibus.


The story is a semi-autobiographical account of the author (a journeyman comic illustrator who hates his hack-artist day job) and his partner's attempt to move out of crowded, bustling Seoul to a remote mountain village where they could live immersed in natural beauty and supposedly free from distractions: ''A place without traffic noise, where the night is as dark as possible, secluded yet spacious, with actual room to walk...''



In the country, however,they find themselves still assailed by the same struggles with deadlines, procrastination, and inspiration, while also tackling new problems, like growing their own food and installing a charcoal stove to keep warm in Winter.


Filled with lovingly intimate details of everyday life, Uncomfortably Happily is suffused with aspects of Korean culture, including attentive depictions of food and cooking and frequent references to popular songs, which his characters are often singing to themselves, when not bursting into zany musical numbers narrating their daily adventures.


Over the course of the story, solitude, harsh conditions, money worries, littering tourists, and creative struggles often test the protagonists' relationship. During these highly relatable trials, however, we watch their slow evolution, as the short-tempered, easily distracted, constantly procrastinating Hong comes to a greater awareness of his own shortcomings while also learning to appreciate his wife's talents -- she begins to succeed as an illustrator and children's book author -- meanwhile, he begins to find more creative satisfaction in his personal work.


In the end, noisy neighbours and encroaching development bring an end to the characters' wilderness sojourn, but they leave as different people than when they arrived. It's a sweet story that finds all kinds of inventive ways to capture the texture of real life: Hong's drawing style is expressively cartoony when it comes to his characters and lushly realistic in its depictions of the Korean countryside (and city). Critically-acclaimed and award-winning in Korea, Uncomfortably Happily seems destined to become a contemporary classic.

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