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Five new reviews up this week on Cleaver’s Review page— something for everyone. Read the full reviews on Cleaver.

Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life

Graphic Narrative Reviews Editor Tahneer Oksman brings us a sensitive and beautifully illustrated essay Ulli Lust’s graphic memoir, on one of the last works edited and translated by Fantagraphics publisher Kim Thompson, who died last week of lung cancer at 56.  Writes Oksman:

“Ulli Lust’s thick graphic memoir, Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, though set in the early 1980’s, decades after most of the beats had already burned out, and continents away – taking place in Austria and Italy – offers a potential answer, in the form of Lust’s own resounding howl. The book features snapshots in the life of a girl, a newly self-affiliated punk raised just over the western side of the Iron Curtain. At almost seventeen, she sets off on foot for Italy with just the clothes on her back and aspirations to “accumulate as much experience as possible, to meet as many people as possible – from the bum to the millionaire, normal people and crazy ones….” And she does. Except, as it turns out, people, or at least the men she encounters, from the artist to the Buddhist, from the junkie to the politician, are a lot more alike than not…”

The End

Also from Fantagraphics, Anders Nilsen‘s heartbreaking graphic narrative memoir of loss, reviewed by Henry Steinberg:

“To read The End is to read the experience of incommensurability – perspective is impossible because when it comes to pain and loss and suffering there is no such thing, at least, not at first. Like the Nazca Lines, the lines of Nilsen’s pain are strange and alien yet altogether strikingly, unsettlingly precise in their renderings. Standing on the foothills at the edge of Nilsen’s loss, we are given the privileged position of both seeing and feeling the experience of another person’s grief. Though at the time it may be messy, Nilsen’s line etches the exact feeling of the pain death brings with it. Nilsen is not carving lines into the earth as much as he is into his own flesh. It is not all hopeless, it is not endless – The End does end, for Nilsen and for all of us.”

The Flamethrowers

Chris Ludovici discusses Rachel Kushner’s new novel, The Flamethrowers:

“All the characters in The Flamethrowers are interested in reinvention; they ache to transcend their compromised human past into a more perfect, harmonious present and future. Fresh out of college with a degree in film, Reno arrives in New York, ready to live. She’s a born gear head, she loves motorcycles and speed, and she’d like to do something with her camera, but all she’s got is some grainy film she’s shot of her neighborhood. Reno is a woman in search of direction and purpose. She doesn’t so much know what she wants, as she knows what shedoesn’t want: to stay at home and end up a switchboard operator liker her mother.”

The Autobiography of Daniel J. Isengart

Toronto-based Fiction Review Editor Michelle Fost, reviews a new novel by Brussels-born artist Filip Noterdaeme:

“Because Gertrude Stein wished readers would pay more attention to the ambitious but largely unread work she considered her masterpiece, The Making of Americans, she had a tendency to knock her very popular Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Years ago, as a young fiction writer working on a master’s thesis on The Making of Americans, I sometimes identified with Stein…Filip Noterdaeme has gleefully appropriated, recast, and remade Gertrude Stein’sAutobiography of Alice B. Toklas.  In this version, we follow a Stein and Toklas-like couple, Daniel and Filip, as they establish themselves in New York. Daniel is a chef and a cabaret singer, and Filip is an adjunct teacher, sometime lecturer in museums, and art establishment outsider and provocateur. He’s often very funny, if frivolously so…”

Women’s Poetry: Poems and Advice

Shinelle Espaillat writes on a new collection by Philadelphia-based poet Daisy Fried:

“Daisy Fried’s new collection, Women’s Poetry: Poems and Advice, illuminates issues that are both specifically feminine (i.e. mother-daughter paradigms) and gender neutral (being American in a foreign land). Divided into four numbered sections, the poems explore the layers of complicated relationships and expose the emotions therein. Fried shows us how beauty forces us to notice it, even when we’d rather not. Through several reflexive lines that connect to other poems within the text, she speaks to the multi-layered nature of art.”