The Nao of Brown Hardcover – Oct 1 2012
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About the Author
Glyn Dillon’s comics illustrations have appeared in several works from Vertigo, including The Sandman. He has also worked as an artist, animator, and designer in film and television. He lives in London, England.
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Glyn Dillon's story of a young woman's trials with OCD and discovering a life she is comfortable with is impressive. What makes it so impressive, and what I wished he'd done more throughout the book, is how certain points aren't spoon-fed to the reader. Anybody who purchases this book already knows the main character, Nao, has OCD. It's how she struggles to manage it in her life and what can trigger her irrational thoughts that draw us in.
And the silences between the conversations of the characters and how they're illustrated say more than any dialogue could possibly say, especially those between Nao and her friend/employer, Steve.
While I wish the ending hadn't been so sentimental and "all wrapped up," I've got to give credit to Dillon for making an adult graphic novel that reads like one. You'll remember this story after you're done reading it.
Nao Brown is half-Japanese, very cute, and an artist. She works in a shop selling Japanese toys and such. She's obsessed with Japanese Ichi comic book characters, and becomes interested in a bearded, heavyset washing-machine repairman who looks like one of them. Her problem: she is plagued by an obsessive compulsive disorder that unexpectedly will overwhelm her with thoughts of injuring and killing other people. The images and thoughts can be simply awful, like stabbing a pregnant woman in the belly. Her struggles to cope with this disorder and conceal it are riveting. Also fascinating is her use of Buddhist meditation and Buddhist artwork to help her learn to not be overwhelmed.
There is a good bit of humor and gentle wisdom in the book as well. The teachers and students at the Buddhist center, for example, can be overly sincere and unaware of their absurdity, for all their compassionate intentions.
Interspersed is the story of a half-man, half-tree Ichi character who joins the Japanese army. The graphic images are weird, ornate and contrasting in style to the realism of the rest of the book. But they also have a quiet serenity to them which understandably appeals to Nao, and the reader.
In Nao's story we learn about her toy store boss, her roommate, her family, and more about the repairman. He turns out to have a wisdom, and a secret, of his own. There is a short text piece toward the end from his diary that provides a different angle to the story. If you are looking for something different in your reading, this certainly provides it. It also provides a rare and thoughtful Buddhist perspective on its events.
Evan Tick CITI