Mar 31, 2009

Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now by Andre Jordan

Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now is an unusual book. I really enjoyed it, and so I mean that in the best possible way. The book is a memoir about the author's struggled with depression, and yet to call it that is both completely accurate and a little daring.

I say this because the word "memoir" will probably make readers expect a narrative sequence, and that's not what you'll find here. Instead of using a straightforward narrative, Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now tells its story through a collection of drawings that illustrate little moments, situations, or particular emotions. For me, the unusual structure was actually a very nice surprise.

I have to confess: the reason why I bought this book is because it's named after a Smiths song. That and the fact that Andre Jordan picked another Smiths song for his recent Book Notes at Largehearted Boy. And I'm telling you this because I think that my being a Smiths fan actually increased my appreciation of this book. There aren't any references to their music beyond the title, and you definitely don't need to be a Smiths fan to appreciate it. But Andre Jordan's drawings kind of resemble Morrissey's lyrics in some ways. They're sad, yes, but they have a sense of humour. They're funny and tender and self-conscious and ironic. As I'm a big believer in laughing at ourselves even when things are at their worst, I really enjoyed this book.

As Terry Pratchett always says, funny is not the opposite of serious, and the humour doesn't mean that the book doesn't deal with depression in a serious manner. But again, I don't think you need to have experienced a depression to enjoy it or find bits of it familiar. Those at all acquainted with loneliness, sadness, disillusionment, confusion or awkwardness (and who isn't?) will surely recognize some of the moments Andre Jordan depicts.

Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now made me laugh, smile and tear up. Most of all, I loved it because it's a perfect example of how art can be used to create a meaning for even the bleakest moments of our lives.


For a better idea of what to expect from this book, watch the video below and visit Andre Jordan's blog, A Beautiful Revolution.

(If you've read this book too, leave me your link and I'll be glad to add it here.)

37 comments:

  1. "...I'm a big believer in laughing at ourselves even when things are at their worst..." Me too! And I tend to give myself a lot things to laugh at. ;) (Seriously, not breaking deal here. I rather enjoy that I can be a dingbat...as I said I give myself plenty to laugh at.)

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  2. What an interesting book. Your review has me really curious about it. I'm putting it on my wish list.

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  3. I have to get this book!!! Not only for myself, but possibly for everyone I know!!! I love the illustrations - the voices in the head one is hilarious!! - I think I would call this 'dark humour', which I adore. THank you, Nymeth! I'm laughing even as I'm coughing over here! :-D

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  4. The illustrations are fabulous. I am glad you mentioned the Smiths song as that was the first thing that came to mind when I opened the post. Vivid memories of Morrisey and the branch in his pocket. Am I showing my age!

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  5. To be honest, the style of the cover initially turned me off. But then I took a closer look at the drawings and understood the appeal. "I no longer hear the voices in my head" and "You have no choice" are particularly hilarious.

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  6. I like the simple artwork that gets its point across. An interesting review thanks. The Smiths definitely go with the theme!

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  7. How can a girl resist a Smith's reference!? Consider this your bad blogger point. :D

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  8. Oh god I have to get this now! Seriously..right now...this is just the kind of book that I love to read every now and then and I love the title. When I first popped onto your website today and saw the cover, I said to myself "poor guy". Sounds just perfect.

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  9. I'm a Smiths fan too... this book looks lovely. I will definitely have to check it out. Love the little line illustrations...

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  10. Interesting looking book. I might have to check it out somewhere down the road!

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  11. This book looks so interesting. It would be interesting to look at depression or loneliness, etc from the viewpoint of an illustration. I think I'd like this. I'm going to see if it's available here. As for laughing at ourselves. I am a firm believer in that-I do too many wacky things not to laugh at myself.

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  12. Great review! This sounds like a really interesting book.

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  13. I haven't heard of that one, but I love the bits you included. I'll definitely be checking that one out!

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  14. Of course the first thing I thought of when I read the title of your post: the Smiths! Oh I love love love this book I have to get my own copy one day.. thanks so much Nymeth! Btw, I bought something like it a couple of years ago and gave it to my sister. It's about depression and with illustrations that look a little bit like that.. I wish I could remember the title and author.. I'll get back to you when I do, will do some googling first..

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  15. Debi: Hmmm... alright, I think you're off the hook this time :P

    bermudaonion: I hope you enjoy it when you get to it!

    Susan: Yes, dark humour! I'm a big fan too :D

    Scrap Girl: I was still little when the Smiths broke up, but I discovered them in my teens, became obsessed, and cursed myself for having been born too late :P

    Loren Eaton: I like the cover because it reminds me of xkcd. But the inside illustrations are even better.

    Rhinoa: They do indeed!

    Lena: yay! More Smiths fans :D

    Chris: This poor is right up your alley!

    Miss D: I love the style. So simple, but so expressive.

    Kelly: I hope you enjoy it if you do!

    Dar: I think we all do. I'd go crazy if I didn't laugh!

    Jo, thanks!

    Darla D, enjoy!

    Claire: You got me curious, so do let me know when you find out

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  16. I just checked out Jordan's blog, and I like his artwork. I'll definitely have to give it a closer look, and I'll keep this book in mind.

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  17. I love the cover! Simple but yet so eye-catching and intriguing! I'm like Rhinoa, I like the simple artwork that gets its point across and that's what makes a great book IMO.

    Thanks for the lovely review, as usual, Nymeth! I'll have to look out for this out. *thinking of my Mt. TBR and sigh* :P

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  18. Oh, I wish I had known about this a few days ago when I was book shopping! You've got me completely hooked on these graphic novels--this one definitely goes on the list.

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  19. Thanks for those visuals to go along with your thoughts. I especially enjoyed the one with the person in the middle and the unknown pointing in both directions!!

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  20. ha, now I have that song in my head. I love the Smiths :)

    This looks like a clever little book..thanks for sharing about it!

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  21. That sounds really different and very interesting, and sad, at the same time. Thanks so much for including some examples of the art. I appreciated getting a sampling. The first one is probably my favorite because it is both funny and depressing at the same time, if that makes any sense.

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  22. This looks great--I'm also a pretty big Smiths fan so the title appealed to me right away. Def. plan to pick this up some time soon!

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  23. Your review of this book reminds me of another short memoir called Clumsy by Jeffry Brown. It's also told in pictures, without a straight narrative, but it's about a first relationship. This book sounds cool too!

    Kim

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  24. Charley, hope you enjoy it! I wasn't familiar with his blog before, but I've become a subscriber :)

    Melody: I thought so too :) And it really does get the point across. The good news concerning Mt TBR is that the whole book only took me about an hour to read :P

    Trish: I can't tell you how happy that makes me :D Go team Graphic Novels!

    Staci: lol, it's a great little drawing, isn't it? And that's what our lives are like so much of the time.

    Amy: It didn't know there were so many Smiths fans in blogland. yay!

    Carl: It does make sense, and that's what most of the book is like. I love the combination of humour and sadness.

    Sadako, hope you enjoy it!

    Kim: Ooh, thanks for the recommendation! Will definitely look for Clumsy.

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  25. Dear Ana, you read the most interesting books! Love the illustrations!!!

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  26. I love the drawings! Sounds really good.

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  27. Too funny. I get it. And I love the Smith's reference in the title too. Have you ever checked out Toothpaste for Dinner? The drawings remind me of that.

    http://www.toothpastefordinner.com

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  28. Alice: I try :P Glad you like them!

    Mariel: It really is :)

    Amanda: I hadn't, but now I have and can see myself becoming a fan :D Thank you!

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  29. Heaven knows... is one of my favourite songs by The Smiths, so although I'm hesitant about graphic novels I'll at least have a look at this.

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  30. Yeah, it caught my eye because of the Smiths title too. I LOVE the Smiths!

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  31. Oh my gosh this looks like the cutest book ever! I'm adding it to my Amazon wish list immediately. Thanks for posting about it. I'd never heard of it before.

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  32. Unusual and unique! I'm intrigued!

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  33. Sarah: I hope you enjoy it! This is different from most comics and graphic novels...rather than using panels, it just uses a full page for each illustration.

    Lenore: You have great taste in music :D

    Becca, enjoy!

    Naida: isn't it? :D

    Ladytink, definitely unique :)

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  34. I leafed through this on a particularly slow day when I was working at Indigo books this past January, and it had me and the other girls howling. I had meant to read it but forgot about it. Thanks for the review.

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  35. This looks so good! And my library has a copy on order. It seems like my type of humor, a lot of people think I'm morbid because when life gets crappy I tend to laugh or make light of it. The alternative for me is too dark a place to go.

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  36. I think this is an interesting concept. There's a history of depression in my family, and while I've been pretty lucky, my family tries to deal with challenges through humor as well. I think that's a great title; I didn't know it was a song.

    --Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

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