Good Night, Hem

Fantagraphics. Sept. 2021. 160p. ISBN 9781683964612. $19.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
Norwegian cartoonist Jason (O Josephine) presents three interconnected short stories starring Ernest Hemingway, which combine fact and fiction in a meditation on the legendary author’s life, career, and legacy. In 1925, young Hemingway and his friends meet a lovelorn musketeer named Athos in a Parisian café and invite him to tag along on a trip to Pamplona, where days spent sightseeing and drunkenly proclaiming the power of their artistic visions bleed into nights of existential despair. In 1944, Hemingway takes it upon himself to end World War II and begins training an elite force to undertake a dangerous clandestine mission into Germany. When a soldier in the cadre falls in love with a woman from a town near their headquarters, he finds himself torn between following his heart and succumbing to Hemingway’s grand romanticization of masculinity. The final story, set in 1959, finds Hemingway revising history to glorify himself as he composes a memoir of his friendship with Athos and reflects upon his own decline and legacy.
VERDICT Jason delivers an at times whimsical but overwhelmingly melancholic portrait, revealing reverence and sympathy for Hemingway without ignoring the author’s shortcomings. One of the best releases of 2021 so far.
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