by Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon (Vertigo, 2011)

Daytripper certainly is gorgeous, with brilliant, eye-popping watercolors and an interwoven narrative style that's evocative, but its ambition outweighs its delivery. Gorgeous but hazy, the story ultimately never achieves the depth it seeks.

Bras de Olivia Domingos, the son of a world-famous writer, is a quiet man living a quiet life, an obituary writer by trade. In a story that can only unfold in the safe confines of magical realism, he lives and dies several lifetimes in multilayered timelines that see him dealing with identity, life, death, love, friendship, family, homesickness, parenthood, nostalgia and the way all these individual themes shape his choices, his lives and his deaths.

Jumping-all-over-the-place, high-concept narratives are difficult to plot. In Daytripper, it's hard to stay abreast. Closing each and every chapter with the author's death makes it easy to feel that the story is ending and there's no need to go on to the rest. This denies the narrative any momentum, making its philosophy seem nihilistic. The main theme, of living life to the utmost because we never know when we are going to lose it, comes across as preachy, which is neither thought-provoking nor emotionally stirring.

Bras tries to find meaning in his life but stops when it becomes hard. He settles for a mundane, sentimental but shallow existence. It's neither thought-provoking nor stirring. There's more navel-gazing than actual delving into the psyche, more discussion of enjoying life than actually living a life that brings rich rewards. Because Bras doesn't lead a particularly challenging existence, there's no sparkle to any of the stories, no deeper meaning. It's just kind of one long, strange trip that's beautiful and descriptive but also disjointed and muddled. It's hard to understand the melancholy that holds Bras in such a grip as to leave him unwilling to stand up for the life he wants. Lots of words but lacking in "story," difficult to get through and falling prey to its own conceit.

review by
Mary Harvey

17 May 2014

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