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A FEW PERFECT HOURS & OTHER STORIES GN - B&W. (Josh Neufeld)
This Xeric Award-winning graphic travelogue takes readers on an offbeat globetrotting adventure, including a cave expedition in Thailand, a stint as extras in a Singaporean soap opera, and a train ride through war-torn Serbia.
With gentle humor and a keen eye for revelatory detail, Neufeld explores religion and spirituality, politics and personalities, and the mysteries of everyday life. From the creator of A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge and the illustrator of the New York Times bestseller The Influencing Machine: Brook Gladstone On the Media.
Autobiographical cartoonist Josh Neufeld takes us on a dramatic tour of places as exotic and different as Thailand, the former Yugoslavia, and New York City. Highlights include Neufeld and traveling companion Sari Wilson on a volunteer expedition to an organic farm in Malaysia, their stint as extras in a Chinese-language Singaporean soap opera, a train trip through war-torn Serbia, and a near-disastrous cave adventure in Thailand. With gentle humor and a keen eye for the revelatory detail, Neufeld explores religion and spirituality, politics and personalities, and the mysteries of everyday life. His stories reflect the backpacker's conflicted feelings: a yearning for adventure mixed with homesickness and a sense of disconnection, trapped in a reality constantly in flux. In the collection's title story, Neufeld illustrates how the tensions and fears involved in travel through a strange country are dispelled by a Thai monk's blessing. In "On a Mission," Neufeld contrasts the viewpoints of American Baptist missionaries in northern Thailand with the traditions of a Buddhist festival. And in "Cremations, Cubicles & Cant," Neufeld juxtaposes his grandmother's Jewish funeral with a Hindu cremation ceremony he witnessed on Bali.
His stories reflect the backpacker’s conflicted feelings: a yearning for adventure mixed with homesickness and a sense of disconnection, trapped in a reality constantly in flux.
In the collection’s title story, Neufeld illustrates how the tensions and fears involved in travel through a strange country are dispelled by a Thai monk’s blessing. In “On a Mission,” Neufeld contrasts the viewpoints of American Baptist missionaries in northern Thailand with the traditions of a Buddhist festival. And the book’s longest story, “Cremations, Cubicles, and Cant,” is a brand-new 20-page tale about the death of Neufeld’s grandmother, which contrasts her Jewish funeral service with a Balinese cremation ceremony; it forms the emotional heart of the book.
Evoking both Tintin-creator Hergé and “comics journalist” Joe Sacco, “Neufeld’s stories operate on a very human level, and his art reflects that with its careful depictions of people from different cultures and backgrounds.” [iComics] Throughout the collection, Neufeld uses the comics form to experiment with narrative and point-of-view. The themes and conventions of the eight stories in A Few Perfect Hours will resonate with readers both within and outside the comics world.
Comics Worth Reading observes that Neufeld’s comics “provide a street-level view of other cultures, with nothing whitewashed. . . . The stories often remind us of the point of travelling — to experience and come to terms with the unknown.”
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Alternative Comics
"A Few Perfect Hours" isn't the kind of work you can easily peg: A graphic novel, it's also the kind of compelling travel writing that takes you on a journey both inside and beyond yourself, to off-the-beaten-path adventures in countries that no longer exist precisely the way they did when Josh & his wife Sari once traveled the globe. The result is a journey in time as well as one between borders. With pieces ranging from humorous to thought-provoking, Neufeld shows he is as capable of fascinating us with his writing as he is with his illustrations. Both bear up to several visits. In fact, it might be worth reading the whole book through once for the stories, again for the visuals, and at least once more to explore how the two interact.
A tip-off to the care he took inside, Neufeld packaged his work in an impressive form (paper, ink, and front and back matter) that makes "A Few Perfect Hours" a beautiful book that stands apart on the shelf. The result is a very readable, rewarding graphic novel that would be equally perfect tucked in a backpack or lying on a coffeetable.
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