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In Poetry is Useless, Anders Nilsen redefines the sketchbook format, intermingling elegant, densely detailed renderings of mythical animals, short comics drawn in ink, meditations on religion, and abstract shapes and patterns. Page after page gives way under Nilsen's deft hatching and perfectly placed pen strokes, revealing his intellectual curiosity and wry outlook on lif In Poetry is Useless, Anders Nilsen redefines the sketchbook format, intermingling elegant, densely detailed renderings of mythical animals, short comics drawn in ink, meditations on religion, and abstract shapes and patterns. Page after page gives way under Nilsen's deft hatching and perfectly placed pen strokes, revealing his intellectual curiosity and wry outlook on life's many surprises. Stick people debate the dubious merits of economics. Immaculately stippled circles become looser and looser, as craters appear on their surface. A series of portraits capture the backs of friends' heads. For ten or twenty pages at a time, Poetry is Useless becomes a travel diary, in which Nilsen shares anecdotes about his voyages in Europe and North America. A trip to Colombia for a comics festival is recounted in carefully drawn city streets and sketches made in cafes. Poetry is Useless reveals seven years of Nilsen's life and musings: beginning in 2007, it covers a substantial period of his comics career to date, and includes visual reference to his books, such as Dogs & Water, Rage of Poseidon, and the New York Times Notable Book Big Questions. This expansive sketchbook-as-graphic-novel is exquisitely packaged with appendices and a foreword from Anders Nilsen himself.


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In Poetry is Useless, Anders Nilsen redefines the sketchbook format, intermingling elegant, densely detailed renderings of mythical animals, short comics drawn in ink, meditations on religion, and abstract shapes and patterns. Page after page gives way under Nilsen's deft hatching and perfectly placed pen strokes, revealing his intellectual curiosity and wry outlook on lif In Poetry is Useless, Anders Nilsen redefines the sketchbook format, intermingling elegant, densely detailed renderings of mythical animals, short comics drawn in ink, meditations on religion, and abstract shapes and patterns. Page after page gives way under Nilsen's deft hatching and perfectly placed pen strokes, revealing his intellectual curiosity and wry outlook on life's many surprises. Stick people debate the dubious merits of economics. Immaculately stippled circles become looser and looser, as craters appear on their surface. A series of portraits capture the backs of friends' heads. For ten or twenty pages at a time, Poetry is Useless becomes a travel diary, in which Nilsen shares anecdotes about his voyages in Europe and North America. A trip to Colombia for a comics festival is recounted in carefully drawn city streets and sketches made in cafes. Poetry is Useless reveals seven years of Nilsen's life and musings: beginning in 2007, it covers a substantial period of his comics career to date, and includes visual reference to his books, such as Dogs & Water, Rage of Poseidon, and the New York Times Notable Book Big Questions. This expansive sketchbook-as-graphic-novel is exquisitely packaged with appendices and a foreword from Anders Nilsen himself.

30 review for Poetry Is Useless

  1. 4 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    A sketchbook that masquerades as a graphic novel (the back cover claims it is sketchbook-as-graphic-novel). A beautiful art object of a book with.. texture. Travelogue, memoir, sketches, philosophical aphorisms, one liners, all collected from a 7 year period. The sketches are deliberately juxtaposed with stuff from his online blog. The comics are like his work in other books clearly quick sketch quality, sometimes with little simple icons for characters, sometimes more realistic figures. It's a A sketchbook that masquerades as a graphic novel (the back cover claims it is sketchbook-as-graphic-novel). A beautiful art object of a book with.. texture. Travelogue, memoir, sketches, philosophical aphorisms, one liners, all collected from a 7 year period. The sketches are deliberately juxtaposed with stuff from his online blog. The comics are like his work in other books clearly quick sketch quality, sometimes with little simple icons for characters, sometimes more realistic figures. It's a combination of dark vision and hilarity. I see that some people just do not "get" it, and give up (as with other work by Nilsen, to which I imagine he would reply, "there's nothing to GET!") Keith's review is the best I saw at a glance: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Stephanie calls this a "despairing meditation" and that seems right, mostly. Zane calls it "absurdly beautiful" and that gets at the absurdism if not nihilism that he seems to see in human existence. And beauty, often just stunningly rendered art work. To what end? Some people take the title, oft-related throughout, as literally true for him. Poetry, art, serves no ultimate purpose. It's a kind of statement of despair. I think I tend to think of it in the light of Samuel Beckett, "I can't go on, I'll go on." These are dark times we are living in, feeling more and more apocalyptic with more mass shootings in the US than days of the year. Endless wars, polar ice caps melting as capitalists debate when to end the world, and so on. Why do art under these circumstances? Nilsen seems to say, I dunno, but I have to keep doing this. And then what happens: Waiting for Godot. Okay, this ain't Waiting for Godot, but it is in that realm, I think. I think in times of existential crisis, it is hard to see why we should go on, why we should engage in the arts. But then we have this artifact, this beauty, this statement against the void. But you know, if I were to leave it there I would be selling the stuff short; it's also playful, silly, downright funny. He's light-hearted in all of it. Hey, so is Waiting for Godot, and almost all of Nilsen's work might reference Beckett's despair and humor. I think if you are interested in Nilsen on the basis of this review you should check out his blog, you should start by reading Big Questions or Dogs and Water. I love this stuff.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    There is about half of Poetry is Useless that is pure, absolute gold -- page after page of strange musings and word-image haikus that just feel so totally right. At the end of a bad weekend in which, once again, the world is ending and horror and doom have won, Nilsen's weird brand of pseudo-intellectual pseudo-babble hits me right where my heart and brains intersect. "You are a beast, an animal, snuffling in the dirt," one of the many nameless silhouettes that haunt the panels says to the reader There is about half of Poetry is Useless that is pure, absolute gold -- page after page of strange musings and word-image haikus that just feel so totally right. At the end of a bad weekend in which, once again, the world is ending and horror and doom have won, Nilsen's weird brand of pseudo-intellectual pseudo-babble hits me right where my heart and brains intersect. "You are a beast, an animal, snuffling in the dirt," one of the many nameless silhouettes that haunt the panels says to the reader. "This theory you have, that you were formed from the clay by the hand of God, given special attention, your life breathed into you by his very breath: it's a fiction. You are no different than the insects, the worms, some feral bog. In fact the very conceit at the heart of your theory debases even this lonely status. No worm thinks it was made in the image of God." Nilsen's ability to blend existential quandary, modern cynicism, pithy one-liners and elegant drawing and design makes Poetry is Useless one of the most thoughtful, penetrating books I've read in a long time...but not for the entirety of its 200 pages. The book consists of short cartoons originally published on Nilsen's Tumblr over a span of years. And as the book wears on, there's the sense here that Nilsen's troubled, pensive narratives might not be as earnest as they first seem -- that the snark and irony of the collection, the likability (and clickability) of each entry is in fact more important that the unanswerable questions it raises about the meaning of life (or lack thereof). "Poetry is useless" is the only repeated phrase throughout the book, and at the beginning this statement feels at once like an artistic call to arms and a woeful nihilistic truth: we must create art, we must find meaning, even if we understand the ultimate fruitlessness of these things. But by the the book's end, after pages of characters speaking remixed truisms and lazy political commentary ("If the CEO of Halliburton falls in the forest, does it make a sound?"), condemnations of any working-class individual who does NOT make art, and visual name-droppings of every hip cartoonist Nilsen knows or has ridden on a flight to SPX with, elements of Poetry is Useless start to wear thin. It begins to feel that the Nilsen has an axe to grind against the pretension of trying to find any meaning in the universe (via poetry or any other medium). It feels like he has collapsed in the middle of a very genuine and real soul-search, and come up with the unequivocal answer that thinking too hard is dumb, that trying to articulate his own intentions is pointless (this last point culminates in a very literal comparison of himself to Jackson Pollock at the book's end). I don't expect Poetry is Useless to provide answers to the questions it raises, but I'm also not interested in the way Nilsen continually bails out of digging past a surface-level rumination on the state of the world. There has always been something equally intriguing and frustrating about his work, but the narrative structures, aesthetic quality, and entertainment value in a book like Big Questions provides Nilsen with just enough cover that you can afford him the benefit of the doubt when his thematic arcs collapse in expected ways. Here, that artifice is stripped away entirely -- sometimes to great effect. But more often to reveal very little but more artifice underneath.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth A

    I found this one both fascinating and frustrating. What is it? That's a good question. It is part sketchbook, memoir, travelogue, brain dump, and musings. There are parts that I loved, but so much of the text was unreadable - this either needed to be a larger format book, or come with a magnifying glass attached. I love the artistic style of his work, and this volume will certainly inspire you to pick up your sketchbook.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Abram

    Completely pointless, some would say self indulgent. I loved this entertaining "mess". Anyone into offbeat, unpredictable absurd humor would appreciate this.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Emilia P

    GUHHHHHH ANDERSSSSS. Why does everyone think you are such a freaking genius? Guhhh. I mean, you are a pretty good illustrator when you want to be, which is like 1/4 of this book. But for your nihilistic, existential, mopey mopes, I just found myself thinking about how I would rather be reading Gabby Schulz (little known but much beloved of me) who is also nihilistic, and self-destructive, and mopey as hell, but also is super-open about his messed up own self and critical of a real world that rea GUHHHHHH ANDERSSSSS. Why does everyone think you are such a freaking genius? Guhhh. I mean, you are a pretty good illustrator when you want to be, which is like 1/4 of this book. But for your nihilistic, existential, mopey mopes, I just found myself thinking about how I would rather be reading Gabby Schulz (little known but much beloved of me) who is also nihilistic, and self-destructive, and mopey as hell, but also is super-open about his messed up own self and critical of a real world that real people live in. If you're going to be such a mope, do it in the real world! Anders, get your head out of the damn clouds. Or me, stop going up there to read his stuff. Yeesh.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    There's an index in the back of this despairing meditation. This book inspired me to make more time for sketching. I like the way he draws trees, mythical creatures, and the pipe-like maps or root systems. Sadness, travel, and politics abound. I'm more excited about the feel of the work than the content.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Zoe Hannay

    "I really liked this. I'm going to give it 3 stars." "But you really liked it. Why don't you give it 5 stars?"

  8. 5 out of 5

    vostendrasamigosyotengolibros

    What can I say of a book that keep me company in so many poops?, I love the existencial sense of humor of Anders Nilsen, for me it's a book that you can read in every way that you what but you will not want to miss a page because you can be missing something amazing and I found it better to read real slow and from time to time, but it's fun and beautiful and casual.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Liam

    These are photographs of Nilsen's sketchbook. From that starting point it's hard for me to love this. It's filled with great ideas and funny quips, but it reads like a stand-up "comic" routine insofar as the ideas are punchy but undeveloped relative to what you might want from a narrative. His work tries to get at serious intellectual issues more so than other graphic artists I have read, albeit he has a penchant for modest nihilistic or nonsensical tangents that muddy the mood he'd cultivated i These are photographs of Nilsen's sketchbook. From that starting point it's hard for me to love this. It's filled with great ideas and funny quips, but it reads like a stand-up "comic" routine insofar as the ideas are punchy but undeveloped relative to what you might want from a narrative. His work tries to get at serious intellectual issues more so than other graphic artists I have read, albeit he has a penchant for modest nihilistic or nonsensical tangents that muddy the mood he'd cultivated in the earlier panels. Is he trying to suggest an idea, or show how rapidly one can lose faith in one? (Perhaps the idea here is the symbol for all of what poetry provides.) I think that aligns with how I feel about Nilsen's work. If he could condense, order and balance the ideas that his content and art style already contain I would declare myself a fan. Till then, this is too messy to get earn any more than a few laughs from bewilderment or surprise.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    Hard to classify this one--kind of an assortment of smaller pieces, memoir, and sketchbook. Filled here and there with little gems, funny exercises, and laugh-out-loud revelations. It's a bit like looking inside someone else's mind while they're doodling. Certainly worthwhile, but I would recommend Big Questions as a better starting point for Anders Nilsen's work. I always look forward to reading whatever he creates. Hard to classify this one--kind of an assortment of smaller pieces, memoir, and sketchbook. Filled here and there with little gems, funny exercises, and laugh-out-loud revelations. It's a bit like looking inside someone else's mind while they're doodling. Certainly worthwhile, but I would recommend Big Questions as a better starting point for Anders Nilsen's work. I always look forward to reading whatever he creates.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Zane Chleboun

    Absurdly beautiful, as is the way of Anders Nilsen. Meaningless tidbits here and there painted with philosophical ideas/thoughts and humorous stories, personal and fictional. I have to admit, there are pages in this book that made me cry in public.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Like Donald Barthelme and George Saunders decided to merge bodies and then make absurdistish drawings instead of writing short stories. Or kinda like if Yoko ONo's Grapefruit was a series of drawings and mini-comic instructions.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marco Morano

    Wow, this graphic novel sure was... something. It felt extremely unique and strange and I have the feeling that I'll never read another book like this in a long time. I think the strangeness that is this graphic novel kinda won me over to giving it four stars. I LOVED the way it kinda made fun of society and religion and how out there this novel is. There were a few moments though where I was confused on what was going on (this is most prominent in the first half) and the ending had me a bit dis Wow, this graphic novel sure was... something. It felt extremely unique and strange and I have the feeling that I'll never read another book like this in a long time. I think the strangeness that is this graphic novel kinda won me over to giving it four stars. I LOVED the way it kinda made fun of society and religion and how out there this novel is. There were a few moments though where I was confused on what was going on (this is most prominent in the first half) and the ending had me a bit disappointed. Either way, this definitely is a book that will stick with me for awhile.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    This collection was witty, gripping, artistic, eye-opening, and important. Despite the differences in opinion that Anders Nilsen and I have about faith and other life things, I experienced a deep sense of understanding from Nilsen, especially considering how he talks about bouts of depression, evil, and grief. His humor reminds me of Demetri Martin: poignantly clever and simple at times. I look forward to reading more of Nilsen’s works and being stunned by his abstract illustrations.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This one is not for me, although I'm glad I skipped past the first few pages and looked at some of the rest of the collection, which I liked a lot more than the initial part!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Batmark

    The sketchbook might just be the most personal artform in comics. One could say it's the equivalent of the journal or diary in prose form, but I'd argue that it's even more personal than that. Journals and diaries filter the author's thoughts and feelings through language, which acts as a kind of translator for the author's id. Of course an exceptionally talented writer would be capapble of using language to represent her id in the most faithful way possible, but I believe it's rare. A sketchbook The sketchbook might just be the most personal artform in comics. One could say it's the equivalent of the journal or diary in prose form, but I'd argue that it's even more personal than that. Journals and diaries filter the author's thoughts and feelings through language, which acts as a kind of translator for the author's id. Of course an exceptionally talented writer would be capapble of using language to represent her id in the most faithful way possible, but I believe it's rare. A sketchbook, on the other hand, allows an artist's subconscious to take over. For comic book artists in particular, the drawings in a sketchbook might at first glance appear to be visual nonsense. But upon closer inspection these drawings might just represent our best chance to see into another person's brain. Anders Nilsen is similar to Kevin Huizenga in that he's particularly adept at illustrating abstract ideas with lines on paper. This is not to say that Poetry Is Useless is filled with a bunch of random, Kandinsky-like blobs and lines. Most of the drawings are strongly grounded in realism, and Nilsen's sketches of people he sees on a train or in a restaurant are as good as anything you'd see any other artist's sketchbook. Likewise, the handful of short autobiographical stories in the book are wonderfully engaging. My favorite: Nilsen illustrates an encounter he had with a man, also named Anders Nilsen, at one of his bookstore readings. It reminded me of Harvey Pekar's famous story, illustrated by R. Crumb, of Pekar's real-life encounters with other people who share his name. Except that, for reasons I won't share here, Nilsen's story is even more spooky. (If you want to know why, buy this book!) But the best pieces, as far as I'm concerned, are the ones that can't be easily defined: the illustrations of strange machinery hooked up to severed hyena heads or human body parts, the elaborate, otherworldly root balls, the conjoined lines that look like they might represent a schematic of an alien computer's motherboard, etc. Then there are the monologues, as in Nilsen's other books, Monologues for the Coming Plague and Monologues for Calculating the Destiny of Black Holes. Close your eyes. Think about a window. Think about the air. Think about cellophane plastic wrap. [pause] Take a deep breath. Wait...now exhale. Feel the air move past your teeth on its way out into the world. Think about clear water. Think about empty space. Think about a space just about one foot behind your head. What does it feel like? Take another breath. Hold it. Think about where that breath will be in one minute. Think about where it will be tomorrow. And then where it will be when the sun swells up and engulfs the earth. Now think about the thin plastic protective coating on your camera's lens. And the transparent film over the eye of a fish. Now think of your breath again. Breathe in, breathe out. Stay relaxed. How many breaths has it been? Where have they all gone? (82) Poetry Is Useless is filled with these, each line spoken by a silhouetted figure in an otherwise empty panel. Some of the monologues are mundane, some are funny, some are profound. But nearly all of them made me pause after reading them, to think about the ideas Nilsen is conveying. In short, Poetry Is Useless is a great book, and Anders Nilsen is one of the best comic book creators of my generation.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mandy E

    Anders Nilsen's humor is my humor. We share humors. The portraits in this book are extraordinary. Unguarded, open, unfussed. Also, sketchbooks. Documents of process. Dynamic, vibrant, alive.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    I picked this up b/c of the title (which I love, but which ultimately didn't really mean anything in context) and recognizing the author's name, so I was a little disappointed. Since this book is basically just a sketchbook, there a lot of different parts to it. Some of them are worth reading but most aren't. The little drawings are pretty and there were a couple I really liked but most weren't very memorable. A lot of the actual comics are just the sort of Atheist Douche (not to say anything aga I picked this up b/c of the title (which I love, but which ultimately didn't really mean anything in context) and recognizing the author's name, so I was a little disappointed. Since this book is basically just a sketchbook, there a lot of different parts to it. Some of them are worth reading but most aren't. The little drawings are pretty and there were a couple I really liked but most weren't very memorable. A lot of the actual comics are just the sort of Atheist Douche (not to say anything against atheists, just this particular kind of nerd boy atheist) stuff that gives me the impression I wouldn't really like the author personally. Which is a shame, since I loved Big Questions. The best parts of this book remind me a lot of the work of another artist who used to be my favourite, but reading this now it doesn't impress me much. I like the tone and the messiness of it but not the content. It feels like maybe I've read it before, but better. I wonder if that's because I like those other books more or because if I read them now I wouldn't like them anymore?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Dalo

    I picked up Poetry is Useless as I was looking at the graphic novels section in the local library. The binding actually stood out to me, with various symbols instead of the name of the book. I flipped through it and saw various scans from what looked like a journal and thought it looked very interesting. I almost put it down for good though very shortly after starting it. There are awesome illustrations throughout, symbols, meanderings about life and death and god. But the majority of the book i I picked up Poetry is Useless as I was looking at the graphic novels section in the local library. The binding actually stood out to me, with various symbols instead of the name of the book. I flipped through it and saw various scans from what looked like a journal and thought it looked very interesting. I almost put it down for good though very shortly after starting it. There are awesome illustrations throughout, symbols, meanderings about life and death and god. But the majority of the book is random poetry that seems to go nowhere. One frame in the book actually says this: "There are those who would say that these cartoons just go on and on and don't add up to anything interesting." I felt like that person a lot reading this. But at the same time, something kept my attention. There were some quotes and stories that he told that were thought provoking. I can't say this book changed my life or anything, but I'm definitely interested in checking out some of his other work.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Weiss

    I don't normally love sketchbooks, but I could barely put this one down. I love the strange scattered thoughts and mini comics that accompany his drawings, which range from charming but minimal realism with short thin lines to solid and truly minimalist compositions of solid curving shapes. The stick figure narrator here strikes me as infinitely more profound and satisfying than what was at work in his "Monologues" books, which are his only works I don't absolutely love. There are many meditatio I don't normally love sketchbooks, but I could barely put this one down. I love the strange scattered thoughts and mini comics that accompany his drawings, which range from charming but minimal realism with short thin lines to solid and truly minimalist compositions of solid curving shapes. The stick figure narrator here strikes me as infinitely more profound and satisfying than what was at work in his "Monologues" books, which are his only works I don't absolutely love. There are many meditations here worth revisiting many times over, and I look forward to doing so. What a pleasure it is to see Nilsen's mind at work in such diverse settings and with such a range of tones, from philosophical to flippant and whatever curious territories reside between.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Although there were a good 20+ pages where the visual and written content were beautiful and thought provoking and absolutely deserved 5 stars, I felt that the structure of this was somewhat lacking. I like reading/seeing what other people note as they live their lives but this got dull and felt like it could have been edited down a bit. Nilsen grapples with assigning meaning to experiences and maybe the non sequitur drawings of roots, animals, pipe shapes and random people were left there for m Although there were a good 20+ pages where the visual and written content were beautiful and thought provoking and absolutely deserved 5 stars, I felt that the structure of this was somewhat lacking. I like reading/seeing what other people note as they live their lives but this got dull and felt like it could have been edited down a bit. Nilsen grapples with assigning meaning to experiences and maybe the non sequitur drawings of roots, animals, pipe shapes and random people were left there for me to assign meaning to. Those didn't evoke much for me, but the comics that included text really did. Ultimately, I don't think I'd recommend this to someone.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jarrah

    The sketchbook/memoir/travelogue that is Poetry is Useless actually raises just as many big questions as Nilsen's previous graphic novel, Big Questions. Nilsen's simple silhouettes debating politics, love and God are extraordinarily relevant and important, with moments of deep cynicism but also others of hope. The drawings - of dogs, people on trains and planes, forests, abstract shapes and more - inserted in the margins and pages in between are not only enjoyable to look at but also well placed The sketchbook/memoir/travelogue that is Poetry is Useless actually raises just as many big questions as Nilsen's previous graphic novel, Big Questions. Nilsen's simple silhouettes debating politics, love and God are extraordinarily relevant and important, with moments of deep cynicism but also others of hope. The drawings - of dogs, people on trains and planes, forests, abstract shapes and more - inserted in the margins and pages in between are not only enjoyable to look at but also well placed to give the reader a chance to process the bigger thoughts addressed in the cartoons.

  23. 5 out of 5

    J.T.

    I absolutely loved "Big Questions", and I don't know if "loved" is the right adjective for how I felt about "Don't Go Where I Can't Follow" considering the subject matter, but I'm usually not as big a fan of Anders' "talking heads" comics. Don't get me wrong, they're usually clever and worth reading, but I felt like this book had way too many of them. That said, I greatly enjoyed the format of the book (direct reproduction of sketchbook pages, for the most part), the sketches themselves and espe I absolutely loved "Big Questions", and I don't know if "loved" is the right adjective for how I felt about "Don't Go Where I Can't Follow" considering the subject matter, but I'm usually not as big a fan of Anders' "talking heads" comics. Don't get me wrong, they're usually clever and worth reading, but I felt like this book had way too many of them. That said, I greatly enjoyed the format of the book (direct reproduction of sketchbook pages, for the most part), the sketches themselves and especially the short stories and diary comics.

  24. 4 out of 5

    DeadWeight

    At one point Anders takes shots at a critic who remarked one one of his books that, in regards to philosophy, "his reach exceeds his grasp." Nilsen seems to take issue with this. It is, however, pretty damn clear in this book. The format of the book is awesome; the illustrations and how they are presented are top notch. The painfully juvenile pontificating? The constant edgy adolescent atheist bullshit? That one weird but unfortunately common reduction of the work of Roy Lichtenstein? Less so. T At one point Anders takes shots at a critic who remarked one one of his books that, in regards to philosophy, "his reach exceeds his grasp." Nilsen seems to take issue with this. It is, however, pretty damn clear in this book. The format of the book is awesome; the illustrations and how they are presented are top notch. The painfully juvenile pontificating? The constant edgy adolescent atheist bullshit? That one weird but unfortunately common reduction of the work of Roy Lichtenstein? Less so. The form is brilliant and inspired. The content is pretentious.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This was a very absorbing read for something that at a glance is just a bunch of scanned images from a sketchbook. I find Nilsen to be very intriguing and all of his doodles and comic strips have a poetic quality to them. I didn't love all of the strips, I'm thinking in particular of the cliche mashups - there were too many of those and they wore thin pretty quick. D+Q deliver once again when it comes to the presentation. The book was a beauty.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Not so much a traditional narrative, but more like a careful selection of his sketches and musings in his notebooks. Very David Shirgley-esque humour, but with less cynicism and a lot more musings about life, god and our place in the universe. Some of the pieces I really liked were: the mashed-up proverbs and metaphors, the story about the man in the hole, the story where he met a fellow Minnesotan on the plane who couldn't believe that all the beauty in world was caused by randomness.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    As much fun as deeply reading a sketch book usually is. There are some real gems here. "The beatings will continue until morality improves." Really beautiful art in places, weird heraldic fish, cars stuck in trees, portraits, geometric shapes, gets clouded a little by the doodles and drabbles that give it that authentic sketchbook feeling. I'm glad I read this, and I'd recommend it, but I would not call it wholly enjoyable.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Mcauley

    I didn't get it. I had to stop reading half way through. Some of the art work is gorgeous but the tiny, endless, handwritten, deformed text was too hard to read on my eyes, and made my brain hurt. I think this is for smarter people than me. No doubt as to the technical ability of the artist - beautiful portraits... but just unreadable.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Josefine

    On the back of the book it says: "Where is the line between a good joke and bad poetry?" I have the answer. This book is the line. When Anders Nilsen is funny, he is funny. But when he tries to be really poetic, he tries too hard, and it ends up really crappy. Wasn't a fan of the art style either. Kind of a njaahhhh for me, and regret having spend so much money on it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Paca (Caroline?)

    Anders Nilsen has fast become one of my favorite artist/writer combos. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It's basically a collection of short comics on sketchbook pages, drawings, weird observations... I dunno, it's hard to sum up. Suffice to say it's awesome and it leaves me feeling both inspired to create more and terrified that it's never going to be this good. Read it.

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