Authors: A.Tota and P.Van Hove
Reviewer: Sarah Gonnet
We received a free copy of this book, from SelfMadeHero, in exchange for an honest review.
Memoirs of a Book Thief is a graphic novel set at the centre of the avant-garde scene in Paris. It is the world of de Beauvoir and Sartre. Of living life as a work of art in itself. A world which is often romanticised; but in this book it is shown to be ugly and duplicitous.
Daniel Brodin is obsessed with books, but lack of money forces him to often have to steal them. This theft soon expands when he recites some else’s poem at an avant-garde party. He becomes the toast of Paris; but it is all based on lies. Still, he gives up his law degree in favour of pursuing the life of the writer. A life he imagines involves more time drinking, smoking weed and socialising with the in-crowd than actual writing. As a writer myself I have issues with this kind of depiction of the writing life. However the authors of this graphic novel seem to have the same doubts- Daniel Brodin is far from an aspirational figure.
Yet, at times, the authors’ depiction of life in the avant-garde scene seems unnecessarily and bluntly ugly. It is also extremely masculine. Like many histories of the left bank in the 1940s and 1950s; the focus is on the men of the scene. Even de Beauvoir isn’t mentioned by name, only depicted sitting next to her life-partner, who is repeatedly directly mentioned. Meanwhile the fictional women created entirely by the authors, are merely followers of their male counterparts.
Overall I found this book interesting, but I can’t claim to have enjoyed reading it.