My New York Diary
by Julie Doucet
Drawn & Quarterly
BW, 96 pages
$15.95 US / Higher in Canada
Julie Doucet’s My New York Diary, first published in 1999, is a classic in the graphic novel genre. It’s the true story of Doucet’s move to New York from Montreal in 1991 to live with a man she barely knew. At first the relationship seems happy and healthy, but as the story progresses Doucet begins to discover an obsessive, paranoid side to the man she is stranded with in a city that terrifies her.
Drugs, epilepsy and success each play a vital role in her story, but the most fascinating aspect of the book is the way Doucet uses her comics as a form of reflection, as a way to make sense of a very chaotic time. Yet her ability to tell a story, and be really funny while doing it, saves it from the self-indulgence to which many diary-styled works often succumb. And the art is amazing. Everything is cluttered, claustrophobic. She has an affinity for the stuff that crowds up her apartment, like coffee pots and plants, the stuff of everyday life. In her earlier work, it was the things surrounding her that were the characters, her stories centered on dreams and inanimate objects coming to life. The characters that populate My New York Diary, even just the ‘extras’ passing on the street, are so stylistically unique as individuals that they alone pull you into her world.
My New York Diary also includes two short stories from Doucet’s old comic book Dirty Plotte, one of which is about how she started drawing comics, which is also the tale of her ‘First Time’. In addition to My New York Diary, her work has been collected into two other books, Lift your Leg, My Fish is Dead! and My Most Secret Desire. (Carrie-May Siggins)