Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I Was a Child, by Bruce Eric Kaplan

Bruce Eric Kaplan may not be a familiar name to you, but you may have seen his simple, ironic cartoons, signed BEK, in The New Yorker and elsewhere.  Kaplan has written another book, a nostalgic look at his childhood.  Kaplan is only 5 years older than me, but for some reason I Was a Child: A Memoir seems more like something from my parents' generation.  It's amusing, on the droll side, and quite random.  There are occasional glimpses of wise reflection, but don't worry, he quickly moves on to random unrelated tidbits.
His work, in general, is marked by a stark simplicity, but I Was a Child takes it to an extreme.  If the effect he was working for is sketches hastily jotted on the back of his bus ticket or something, he achieved that.  If the overall effect of the book is meant to feel like it was randomly narrated on a tape deck while he was getting ready for bed, he achieved that.

The unfinished, first-draft quality of I Was a Child adds to its relatability.  Don't expect great wisdom and heavy historical import from this memoir.  What you can expect is to get to know Kaplan and his quirky family.  He may even remind you of your own family in one way or another.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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