K.O. Simpson: Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

What I loved best about Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World was the relatability of the narrative. He does a really impressive job of capturing teen-aged girlhood without ever having experienced it for himself, which is truly an impressive feat. As Clowes says in an interview about Ghost World in The Daniel Clowes Reader, “being a teenage girl is not for the weak” (Clowes 146). Enid and Rebecca have a friendship that is really authentic and the dialogue happening between them and the other characters in Ghost World is sincere and true to the colloquial nature of teenage verbal interaction. And the emotions—oh, the emotions! Having been in many love triangles myself over the years (the general composition as follows: I like boy, I have friend, boy likes my friend, asks me for advice on how to get to friend, repeat x5), I found their situation to be hilariously truthful and applicable. I also really liked Clowes choice to bathe the landscape in that aqua blue glow that he claims to be reminiscent of walking down the streets of Chicago in the evening with the light from peoples’ televisions flooding into the night. The same effect took place in my own small suburban town and brings me back to my early youth and walking home for dinner when the sun went down after playing with friends after school. The lights from peoples’ windows always guided me home and the color scheme Clowes chose reminds me particularly of that carefree time in life. It is exceptionally difficult to get back to that place as an adult.

I am also an avid sentimental collector—I can never get rid of anything, especially things with sentimental value, which almost everything has! Most of the things I no longer have are due to my sister having thrown them away, because that is how she cleans. I really identify with Enid’s struggle to let go of the past; I am a Class I material clinger. I could not stand the thought of my precious childhood stuffed animals falling into the hands of random passersby, just as Enid has to run back to her house to make sure her stuffed animal is still there. Luckily, he is, which came as quite the relief to me. Another point of overlap between my experiences and those of Enid are rooted in the idea of departure. The distance that attending college can frequently put a strain on relationships, but sometimes the anxiety and uncertainty that precedes separation can be equally if not more destructive to those relationships.

The idea of ghostliness is really effective in this narrative. For me, a ghost symbolizes a shell of what once was, which is what growing up is for me. The realizations and changes that come along with growing up make the memories of our past and youth seem like ghostly figures swimming about in our consciousness. They say tragedies happen in threes but I feel as though extreme changes happen in threes and these coincidental clusters can complicate our capacity to adapt to our changing surroundings. Clowes does a beautiful of job of capturing the trials of teenagedom! I will definitely be keeping this Reader for my collection!

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