Time Under Tension

Fantagraphics. Oct. 2023. 264p. ISBN 9781683968962. pap. $24.99. MEMOIR
Upon graduating from art school, Harkness (Desperate Pleasures) finds herself under immense pressure to find a path toward becoming a functional, responsible adult. Sex work pays the bills while she struggles to establish herself as a professional cartoonist and studies to become a personal trainer, but her progress is hampered due to feeling unmoored and unable to engage with day-to-day life. Her relationship with her mother is strained. Her sexually abusive father, on parole from prison, is anxious to reconnect as part of his own therapeutic journey, regardless of the effect this may have on Harkness. Her support system consists of well-meaning friends who often can’t quite grasp what she’s going through and eccentric cartoonists consumed by their own need for self-expression. She’s also in love with an up-and-coming MMA fighter who tends to only reach out when he needs drugs or to vent about his long-term girlfriend. Will she be destroyed by the pressure she feels, or can she harness it to become stronger and gain agency over her life?
VERDICT Harkness delivers one of the best releases of 2023 in this exhilarating, heartbreaking, and often humorous memoir. Add it to the collection right away.
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