GRAPHIC NOVELS

Monk! Thelonious, Pannonica, and the Friendship Behind a Musical Revolution

First Second. Sept. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9781626724341. $24.99. BIOG
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While most readers are likely familiar with at least the name Thelonious Monk (1917{amp}ndash;82), if not his music and biography, few have probably heard of Baroness Kathleen Annie Pannonica de Koenigswarter (1913{amp}ndash;88), scion of the Rothschild family and fortune and loyal patron of the arts. This new dual biography by writer/illustrator Daoudi (Tripoli) aims to correct that. It opens in 1982, with the aging, ailing Monk several years into self-imposed exile in Pannonica's home, before flashing back to explore their first meeting in 1954 and the ensuing decades of enduring friendship. Daoudi's brilliant illustrations capably present the pristine, sprawling estates of Pannonica's youth on one page and the crackling energy and claustrophobic intensity of New York jazz clubs on the next, especially shining in scenes depicting Monk on stage, forever caught between expressions of joyous inspiration and madness.
VERDICT Exploring issues of class, race, and social status, Daoudi thankfully avoids a trite moral about music transcending cultural divisions and instead focuses on two extraordinary individuals and the bond between them.

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