Special Exits HC

Publisher: Fantagraphics Books

Release Date: September 2010

Price: $26.99

Creator: Joyce Farmer

Format: 208 pgs., Hardcover

ISBN: 978-1-60699-381-1

Age Rating: Adults

ICv2 Rating: 3 Stars


This graphic memoir chronicles the author’s struggle with the aging of her father and stepmother.  The subject matter isn’t pretty.  Still, the book is intriguing, well-written and thought-provoking.  The artwork is nothing special, but is adequate for the story.

The book is much more engaging and less strident than her early work. Joyce Farmer wrote outraged and outrageous feminist responses to the heavily misogynist underground comics of Crumb and others of the 1970s.  This is a more mature work, one that she wrote over a period of years.

The subjects of aging parents and the passage of time have been addressed in many books, but rarely in such a down-to-earth, unflattering fashion.  No one is idealized here; no one is made to look special.  The down side is that it is difficult to empathize with the characters as portrayed.  The father, especially, is kind of creepy after a while, as the reader notices the results of some of his behavior.  His ignorance of his second wife’s medical issues stands out more sharply when he comments that his first wife never complained about her health... but that she died at age 37.  Did she not complain, or was he not listening?

Not everyone will like the book.  Adults with aging parents will find it powerful.

--Nick Smith: Librarian Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.