on 15 September 2004
I picked this book up on someone's desk at work and started flicking through. "Haven't read it myself but it's meant to be quite good" was the brief recommendation.
Quite good aren't really the words for this beautiful story of, well, just two friends and the short period during which they try to adjust to having left school and face uncertain future.
The tale(s) centre on Enid (a sassy, witty deep thinker with a sarcastic rapier like wit) and Rebecca (an attractive gentle girl, a more relaxed foil to Enid's barely concealed angry angst). Daniel Clowes chronicles their small time (and town) adventures, with a sensitivity that belies both his gender and dare I say the comic book format.
It soon becomes apparent that the friendship that served them well through school and through what could have been some very tough times (a funeral is suggested in the opening pages, Enid's had multiple step mothers and Rebecca appears to only have a single parent / grandmother / guardian?) is going to be tested and stretched as they grow apart and try to find out who they are and who they want to be...
I was amazed and unsettled as to how instantly I was whisked back to that painful time when you're told that you're completely free and everything is possible. Yet, at the same time - like Enid and to lesser extent Rebecca - you're seized by a terrible nostalgic fear of the future and clutch for security at what's in your past.
My only criticism (and this is probably actually one the books strengths) is the brevity of the stories is quite brutal. You begin to care desperately for these vulnerable characters and want to be reassured that they do indeed find some kind of contentment ... yet the ambiguous story lines and (in my mind) vague ending ensures that they remain ghosts not just from the author's but your own past as well...
Buy it, as the other reviewers have said it's wonderful...
on 31 August 2006
Don't you just hate it when a reviewer titles their review with a line you'd only understand if you'd read the book they're reviewing, and why would you read it if you'd read the book.
Ghost World isn't exactly value for money at only 80pages. But its a great story of friendship and the transition between different stages of life, in this case high school to college, you'll feel gratified after reading it.
What's really interesting about Ghost World is the way its two characters are all so right about their judgments on the world around them, but they are so judgmental that not even themselves or each other live up to their expectations.
Like 'Black Hole' this story shows that life doesn't simply start and ends like a story, encapsulating just a piece of life.
The story is both funny and emotional, true to life and outrageously off the wall.
Daniel Clowes style is defined by its set black lines that in case ever detail, coloured simply in white and mint shade of green. It's not the value of other comics but it's one you'll want to read again and again.
Not having read a graphic novel before (I can't remember why...), I was drawn to this by a description of the upcoming film adaption in 'Uncut'...It's as good as Coupland & Pahulinuk; it took an hour or so of a train journey to read (& therefore ranks up there with 'Anthropology' & 'Jesus'Son'& the complete short stories of Raymond Carver, as minimal masterpieces...)
It is funny & sad & true & satirical & all this and more. I re-read the end pages several times & felt a little like Enid staring at Thirties Rebecca. I wanted to be back at the beginning again...
For anyone who wants to taste the blue mood of the early 1990's- 'Generation X', 'Prozac Nation', 'My So-called Life', 'Everclear' etc. Or who is looking for another 'Catcher in the Rye' or 'Life After God'or 'L'Etranger'...Well, here it is...& despite the stereotype of comics/graphic novels & the book's brevity, I can think of nothing else I can reccomend more highly at the moment.
For teenagers; for adults with memories; for people who overuse the word "f**k". For...everyone.
Wonderful; what more can I say?
on 17 March 2001
I came to discover this book backwards, almost by chance: Aimee Mann has a song called Ghost World which was inspired by this book. It's a wonderful song, so I figured I might check out the book.
Oh my god.
I read it in one sitting. It's very brief (80 pages or so) and completely absorbing. It draws you in like very few books, comic or not, can. The two main characters are two teenage girls, Enid and Rebecca, who are hanging around their small town the summer after they graduate from high school. That's it.
The thing is, it's not. Clowes somehow manages to convey in every sentence, every frame, the feeling of being a teenager and feeling the dead ends wherever you head. And the wonderful thing is, the dead ends are not shoved down your throat. It's a subtle thing, present in an empty street, a record store, a diner. Where you find them in real life.
Trust me on this one.
on 12 October 2011
Ghost World is an understated, melancholy and often hilarious tale about the passage to adulthood. High school graduates Enid Coleslaw (anagram of Daniel Clowes) and Rebecca Doppelmeyer wander LA meeting various oddballs, as they put off the question of what to do with their lives.
Enid is the more prominent of the two. Quasi-intellectual, bitter, confused, she isn't as standardly pretty or outgoing as Rebecca, who reads teen magazines and has more interest in boys. Though best friends since childhood, as they've grown and their personalities evolved the friendship has become strained. They love each other but are crippled by apathy towards their oncoming adulthood.
Other characters include Enid's father; his current girlfriend; John Ellis, an acquaintance obsessed with the morbid; a paedophile priest; and Josh, another recent graduate whose niceness the girls exploit.
The humour, which touches on Satanism and child porn, is sometimes outlandishly dark (typical of Clowes) but as the story progresses its true themes emerge, until what you're left with is a tender, profound dramedy about growing up. Enid and Rebecca are lost in the ghost world of their late teenage years, unsure what to do next, denying to the last they have to do anything at all. They visit crappy diners and sex shops, poke fun at the people they meet, make crank calls etc., until finally issues like college catch up with them. The ending is at once ambiguous and achingly inevitable. Whether what happens is symbolic or not, it marks the natural culmination of the story.
The panels are black, white and pale blue, intended by Clowes to evoke the experience of walking home at twilight, which nicely accentuates the story's tone. The characters' features have a pleasing attention to detail - squinty eyes, down turned lips - which imply their independent personalities.
All in all, an excellent choice for fans of serious literature and comic books alike.
on 6 May 2002
Where do I begin. First of all, if you like the
wit of "The Catcher in the Rye" and enjoy
"anti-hero" characters, then you must buy this book. The girls are beyond Holden Caulfied and are quite rude, crude and, for the reader, downright funny.
The book worked in that, I as a 40-yo, felt what the young girls in the book were feeling.
Also, it is a great book for people who like to
people watch and make up identities for strangers ("Look, it's the satanists!")
Buy a few hours worth of your favorite mind-altering beverage, take off your shoes, get on the couch and read!
on 9 September 2014
Much has been made of Ghost World world. It has a devoted following among reviewers and readers alike like who seem to be dedicated to the extreme. And maybe that's the problem. I approached the book with open eyes, unbiased by and inexperienced with graphic novels. That could also explain why I was a bit underwhelmed. I certainly understand that Ghost World is, for a graphic novel, ground breaking. I'm sure it broke all the rules at the time. The story and the two protagonists are interesting, eccentric and easy to relate to, even at my age (53). The visuals are strong and the dialogue true-to-life. I even, after a second reading, understood the universal themes Clowes was weaving that were less obvious at first glance-learning to overcome self-hatred, betrayal, the loss of innocence. I guess the problem was that I judged Ghost World not by the standards of youth fiction or comic books, but of literature and the post-modern novel. Against that backdrop it just felt thin and a bit trite. But more importantly it simply did not move me enough to really care about the fate of its characters.
on 16 December 2015
This was my first introduction into the wonderful world of Daniel Clowes. I'd already seen the film and loved it, partly for the cast, but mostly for the characters. This is a little different to the film adaptation, but equally as great. The art is beautiful, totally the style I enjoy looking at and it's really well written too. When comics are written and drawn by the same person, I panic a little that one aspect is going to be a let down but this wasn't the case at all. Enid Coleslaw (yep, that's her legal name, her Dad changed their surname) is exactly the kind of character you hate to love because she's totally pretentious and bitter and superior, but she's cool and weird and wonderful too. It's essentially a quirky coming of age tale about friendships forming and ending. By no means Clowes best work, but still a great read.
on 9 January 2013
The observational humour, teenage angst and slice of Americana are very enjoyable as Clowes gives us a little insight into two awkward adolescent girls and their mundane suburban existence. The print quality is great; the colour is vibrant and the pictures nice and detailed in a traditional comic book style.
My only disappointment was how short the graphic novel felt. It really only tickles the surface of the characters' worlds and this seemed like one edition in what should have been a bigger story. The film inspired by the book took the initial premise and expounded upon it giving the audience something a little deeper and more involving. This felt like it was over before it begun - a frustrating appetiser.
on 4 August 2010
I'm new to reading graphic novels but this appealed after reading some reviews on the genre. I found Ghost World very entertaining and it made me laugh. The pictures are very well drawn, brilliant even in character observation and certainly tell more than half the story. The balance between words and images works like a film, (unsurprisingly) which for me makes this a particularly successful book. The characters though 'charicatures' are also painfully real, you just have to laugh. Daniel Clowes seems to capture the essence of young teenagers brilliantly. Very American in culture and delivery but still relevant to the British reader. Highly recommended if you can take the rude dialogue.