Blindspot - Kevin C. Pyle (Henry Holt) $13.95
I'm not sure if I have seen a $13.95 book before. This is another title that I borrowed from the library. I am uncertain if I will buy it now, but I probably should. I have read a few reviews of it, and I have to assume they are correct in what they are positing, but it isn't the vibe that I got from the book when I read it the first time.
Blindspot centers on Dean Tollridge, a young boy who is perfectly happy being a young boy and living a life rich in fantasy, imagination and play. We know he is a good kid, we know that school doesn't interest him at all, we know that he has a full and active imagination and that playing 'army men' is the primary joy in his life.
The book is 8.5 x 11, and close to ninety pages. The story is told in vignettes but still has a definite flow and progression to it. The art is used effectively to get the story across. There are a number of conventions used throughout. The most immediately recognizable is the use of single color panels and pages to create different moods, or as a sort of shorthand. In contrast to that is the comic book world of the army men play. When Dean and his friends are running missions in the woods and in neighbor's yards, the panels are in the style of golden age army comics. The book is even dedicated to Sgt. Rock as well as the author's parents.
I saw this book as a coming of age story, a story about learning how to live happily in reality and not trying to hide inside of fantasy completely. The reviews I read focused on a larger statement about war in our society in general. As a kid who played in the woods a lot and had a very active imagination and no particular desire to fit in at school or have to deal with real life, I saw it as more straight forward than that.
The standard things intrude on Dean's childhood. School work, the playgraound pecking order and the macho aggression forced on boys, the discovery of the opposite sex and sex in general, the reality of things we have idealized, such as the difference between WWII and WWII comics and play, and the cruel and ugly realities that are out there in the real world, like homelessness and mental illness. The story has a great ending, and would be a great story for boys of a certain age, but I think it might be lost on modern boys of a certain age. I don't think the target is 39 year old boys of a certain (38 and 10 months or so) age. I enjoyed it, and was sort of touched by it. This isn't the second coming or anything, but well worth it's price, and a good read.