Showing posts with label Jennifer Hayden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jennifer Hayden. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Story of My Tits Volume 2 by Jennifer Hayden

Title: The Story of My Tits volume 2
Author: Jennifer Hayden
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Rating: WARTY!

Note that there are two authors named Jennifer Hayden, so please don't confuse them! One, this one, is the graphic novelist and artist. The other isn't! It pains me to review negatively a novel about an important topic like this, but I cannot in good faith recommend this. The title, as it did with volume one, suggests this is about breasts, and as metaphorical as it might be, it really wasn't about breasts as much as it was about the author's life, which was plagued with family issues and with health issues not only for herself, but also for her mom.

I'm not sure how much more I can say about this pair of graphic novels that I haven't already said for volume one, so this review may be unusually short for me! Please read the review for volume one to get the bulk of my views and insights, such as they are. I think my main problem, apart from not liking the art work or the insanely crowded images, was that the topics discussed here were really rather mundane - as sad and tragic as they may well have been for those persons involved, so there was nothing here for me to learn, and nothing to entertain or engross me. Volume one was better than two, but both were largely the same - a simple biography about the every day life of a rather dysfunctional family, but these "revelations" were neither unique nor particularly unusual in the big picture.

This volume covers the author's later life, post marriage, and it's really a comedy of irritations - using comedy in the Shakespearean sense. I really had little interest in these stories because there was very very little here which I have not experienced in one way or another, even if only vicariously by reading about it. In addition to his, I am not into hippie or new age stuff, and cannot take seriously books laid at the feet of a goddess or dedicated to a husband who is evidently superior not only to all husbands, but to all possible husbands. That just seemed unnecessarily unkind to me - as though everyone else's husband is second-rate at best.

This volume covers later events in the author's life, and the deaths of some family members. This is fine and I am sure it has import for family and friends, but it's nothing that other families do not go through, including my own so there is, sad and tragic as these events are, nothing to move me about these events. Death is a part of life, and it's coming for all of us sooner or later, so while we need to acknowledge that, and be prepared for it, we don't need to dwell on it or take pains to write paeans to it.

As I mentioned, the art work wasn't very good, and the images were way too crowded, and dark and insanely detailed to get the best out of them. In addition to that, there was often way too much text, which meant it was too small and hard to read at times, so I found myself skipping a lot of it because it was rambling or because I didn't want to go to the trouble of straining to read all that tiny text. That said, the writing itself, apart form being too wordy, was decently done. There were no spelling or grammatical errors that I saw, so this author can write, but perhaps needs a better topic.

I didn't appreciate the bad language in this case. I don't have a problem with it in a novel where it fits, but in something like this, it felt out of place. It could have been avoided and thereby perhaps made the message accessible to a wider audience. For me, it contributed nothing to the story, and it may keep some potential readers away. That said, this novel is explicitly about female function and organs, so maybe the language would make no difference! Some people are just too squeamish no matter what.

In short, I cannot recommend this volume because I didn't feel it was the best the author could do, or that it offered anything really new and engaging. I feel bad about this because I know there are important messages to relay about such events, and I also know that these things are important parts of the author's life, but I also think authors need to grasp that not everything that carries weight with them has the same gravity for anyone, let alone everyone else out there. I think we need to pick and choose what to relate and how to relate it, and I don't think this was the best approach.

The Story of My Tits Volume 1 by Jennifer Hayden

Title: The Story of My Tits
Author: Jennifer Hayden
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Rating: WARTY!

Note that there are two authors named Jennifer Hayden, so please don't confuse them! One, this one, is the graphic novelist and artist. The other isn't! I really wanted to like this graphic novel, but no matter how hard I tried, I just could not get on its side, I'm sorry to say. I think there's both a need and a market for this kind of story whether it's autobiographical, semi-auto, or purely fictional, but this autobiography just didn't work for me. Your mammary-age may differ!

I was excited to get this and volume two from Net Galley, but I had to read volume 2 first because volume one flatly refused to download until the next day, and I didn't want to wait in case it never downloaded! At first I thought maybe I should have waited, because there seemed to be parts of volume two which were dependent upon the first one for better understanding, but when I finally read one this morning, it did not clarify the things I thought it would, so in the end it made no difference that I read them out of order.

I preferred one to two, but only marginally. For me, the biggest problem was that there were no insights or points of interest in either volume for me. There was nothing really unexpected, nothing I didn't know, nothing I found fascinating, and no ah-ha moments, so for me, it did not deliver.

What I did get was too much trope and cliché for my taste. It felt like watching one of those truly crappy TV sitcoms where the wife is pregnant, and the husband can't cope, and every tired joke is tediously retold. A story like this deserved better and this one is better than those stupid, clueless, pedantic, canned-laugh shows, but it still lacked too much for it to appeal to me.

I felt really bad to feel so negative about this because it's an important subject, but I can't in good faith recommend something which I don't feel gets the job done and this one didn't, starting from the title on in. I felt that the title was slightly misleading. I do get that the title was designed to shock, to perk interest, and to be metaphorical and to show how women all-too-often feel defined by their basic physical appearance, but the story was much more about the person than ever it was her breasts. I get that for a woman, living in a male-dominated world, it can become hard to differentiate yourself from your breasts. We're mammals, defined by our milk producing ability so they are out there, so to speak, and they have unfortunately become so representative of womanhood. This is wrong, obviously, but for now, it's what we have to deal with. It would have been nice to have had more observations on, and insights into that.

For me, it was hard to empathize with this character to begin with. I think that might have been one of my root problems. She doesn't come off as very smart. She seems like a slacker with little self-motivation. She's a smoker - although commendably she gives that up, but it's because she goes on the pill, not because there's a history of cancer in her family. She didn't get regular health check-ups. Although her honesty in revealing all of this is commendable, it just didn't appeal to me or make me feel like I was on her side. If she had been more proactive, she would have been more appealing. That said, she does take more charge in volume two.

This volume deals with her childhood and youth, up to college, and meeting the guy she wants to marry, and ends with them finally marrying, but I didn't feel like there was anything new here. There was a lot of old - a lot of addressing the same issues through which everyone goes, which seemed pointless to me. It's sad to think that any of this could be news to your typical modern women, but that said, there are unfortunately too many who have not been well-educated by parents or by schooling.

I think that what I found most annoying was how over-crowded the images were. Where there wasn't too much shading and scribbling, there was too much text. I read this on an iPad, not as a print book. I don't know how large the print book would be, but the iPad screen is fairly large, yet the text was often hard to read, and I found myself skipping lots of it because there was simply too much and it was too small to bother with, and it was rambling anyway with endless asides and footnotes. It was amusing in parts, but too often tedious to read. I did get the impression that it might be more fun to listen to the author talk about this than to read what she's written about it. Maybe she should try an audio rather than a graphic novel?

The art work wasn't very good either. It was all black and white line drawings with heavy, heavy shading and overwhelming detail, and the character depictions felt more like the weekend children's cartoons in a newspaper than they did a graphic novel. I can't recommend this as a worthy read, and I take no pleasure in that.