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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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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...
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on 24 April 2017
Brilliant. What understanding Clowes has of these girls. There is no holding back here in their belittling of other outsiders.
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on 27 March 2017
Liked this from the start. Good read.
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on 23 May 2017
My daughter loved it.
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on 13 August 2017
Amazing story, with dark humour. Very original in style and a great read.
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on 10 February 2001
Daniel Clowes is arguably the finest artist and writer working in the modern comics field. The auteur of celebrated annual comic "Eightball", Clowes has produced work that is both aesthetically impressive and thematically satsfying.
In his early work, particularly the private eye parody "Lloyd Llewellyn" , he borrowed heavily from the popular SF/Horror comics of the EC period. By fusing this already familiar visual style with his own thematic concerns ( failed relationships, sexual devience and death ), he has created a landscape that owes more to David Lynch or Bunuel than Jack Arnold or Stan Lee. His most celebrated works have dense, intricate storylines and labyrinthine plotting rarely seen in the comics field. His characters are not super heroes or freaks - just everyday people united by a futile search for stability; a search that usually leads them into nightmarish territory, the underbelly of the American Dream.
In his best works, like the the lacerating Comics industry parody "Pussey", Clowes has invited comparisons with the Godfather of Underground comix Robert Crumb. However, even Crumb at his most brilliant could never have sustained the clinical yet passionate tone of Clowes long running serial "Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron" - an epic, noirish quest involving pornography and murder. Nor would he have been able to deliver such a melancholy, affecting portrait of solipsistic youth as "Ghost World".
"Ghost World" explores the fragile relationship between Enid and Becky - teenage girls on the cusp of impending adulthood. Set during their final Summer together as they decide what to do with their lives, the book offers up a fading snapshot of two high school misfits with few friends.
Nothing much happens in "Ghost World". Mostly the girls just talk - recounting ( possibly false ) virginity loss tales to each other, deriding the inhabitants of the town, witnessing and commenting on the more desperate aspects of their shared universe. Their skewed persepective is shared with their bemused friend Josh - the only male to have any real influence in their lives.
Such scant description barely does justice to such a brilliant, hilarious work. Its dark too- not some gently whimsical account of teenage life seen through jaundiced, ageing eyes, where all the protagonists come to slowly realise what life is 'really' like. Enid and Becky are all too aware of the impending adult world and wish to resist it for as long as they can. They display little, if any naivete, which makes the brief moments of disappointment or loss they feel all the more aching. They are neither ingenue or cynic - just two funny, cool, messed up teens - real in a way that makes us feel uncomfortable, as we witness our own shortcomings in their fractured, transient existence.
Becky and Enids' hilarious and bitter exchanges reveal one of Clowes many strengths - his intuitive grasp of language. The girls are very clued up - with the dialogue at times coming over like a running pop cultural commentary - whether its Becky slating a tragically bad alternative comedian ; "..hey if he's so weird, how come he's wearing Nikes..", or Enid damning the writers of a cool teen fanzine; "..they're just a bunch of trendy stuck-up bitches who think they're cutting edge because they know who Sonic Youth is.." Despite this knowing tone, Clowes never falls into the trap of having his characters speak with the world weary tones of thirtysomething sitcom writers. When his dialogue isn't blowing you away, Clowes has the look down cold too - the clutter, bric a brac and useless detritus of our teenage years taking on an almost mythical status in the book.
This edition of Ghost World is published as a tie-in for the forthcoming movie version - directed by "Crumb" director Terry Zwigoff. Writen in collaboration with the writer, we can only hope that they can capture the spirit of Clowes most profound and emotionally rewarding work. That would be a special film indeed.
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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 25 September 2001
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?
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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.
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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.
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on 5 April 1999
For those who don't read comics because of the juvenile annotations, this will be a wonderful introduction to one of the most poignant minds working today. With GHOST WORLD, Daniel Clowes has followed in the footsteps of the Hernandez brothers' LOVE AND ROCKETS, by portraying the world of American youth in remarkably sympathetic terms. In contrast to the endlessly evolving world proposed by Los Bros Hernandez, the setting of GHOST WORLD is all to stagnant and finite. The denizens of GHOST WORLD are lead by Enid and Rebecca who during the coarse of the novel watch ever-synically as their Kingdom of Youth crumbles in the aftermath of adulthood. This maturation of the characters is ironically paired with Clowes' maturation as an artist(Currently, Eightball consists entirely of the in depth epic of David Boring, an excellent follow-up for the GHOST WORLD reader). Daniel Clowes has an ability to find an intimacy with his reader that raises the medium of comic books to a new forum where audience may come slightly closer to penetrating the fourth wall and making contact with the mind behind it. GHOST WORLD stands as evidence.
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