PRINT December 2016

Books: Best of 2016

Natasha Stagg


I wasn’t sure I’d love Daniel Clowes’s newest graphic novel, Patience (Fantagraphics)—its back cover declares it a “cosmic timewarp deathtrip to the primordial infinite of everlasting love,” and I usually can’t follow science fiction, especially when it concerns time travel. But Jack, Patience’s time-traveling narrator, doesn’t care for sci-fi either, which makes things easier. He is less nerd than stubborn romantic, excited about stumbling on a wrinkle in time only because it means he could save his love life.

Clowes is a master of immediacy. Even without his elegant illustrations, his dialogue—sometimes drifting out of frames to denote background audibility, sometimes repeated with new clarity when a time period is revisited—is so sharp, he establishes characters in just a few bubbles.

Patience adds to Clowes’s growing crowd of pissed-off, love-starved, small-town creations: Here, the people of these worlds are cosmically justified in their actions, no matter how meaningless they feel their lives are. And Patience isn’t so much about imagining the year 2029 (jokingly depicted as a neon-colored space age) as about understanding the crappy present as the only way things could possibly be. I read it in one sitting and wanted, like Jack, to start over again.

Natasha Stagg is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Her first novel, Surveys, was published by Semiotext(e) in March.