A few years ago, a friend recommended I check out Lucy Knisley’s work and it was something that went in my mental bank for after then. Which turned into now, since my library had a copy and I’ve been on the hunt for some good graphic novels. This one is not your typical story-based graphic novel, but more of a travel diary told through narration, photos, and illustrations by the author.
In January of 2007, the Lucy and her mom spent a month in Paris to celebrate her mom’s 50th birthday and get some good mother/daughter bonding in. (Man, I want to go to Paris to celebrate a big birthday like that. I’d love to go with my sister, because that would be AWESOME.) Since the author is also an artist, she decided to keep a journal of her time just before and in Paris. The title of the book (reference to actual milk that Lucy almost obsessive feelings for, but that doesn’t really show up until near the end of the book) should be a clear indication that there would be a heavy emphasis on food and drink. Much of the entries recorded what the Lucy and her mom ate and drank, and where they did so.
The entries that weren’t focused on food and drink talked about the shopping they did at boutiques and flea markets they hit, the art museums (oh god, I want to visit Paris for the museums alone!) they went to (and Lucy includes sketches of her favorite works of art, which was cool in that meta way), and in general their experiences while there. Peppered throughout all this were some photos that either Lucy or her mom took, some background of various important friends and family, and the artist’s general struggle as she grows and figures out her place in the world while taking a holiday abroad.
Fans of travel journals, Paris, art, and food will more than likely appreciate Lucy’s fun style and interesting take on the city and it’s offerings (including, of course, French milk). I know I did.
Since I transferred to reading mostly library books (boo for being a responsible adult with a not very disposable income), there haven’t been many books I’ve felt the need to buy after I’ve checked them out from the library. I’ve read 55 books so far this year, and the last one I can remember is from last year, and that was Where’d You Go, Bernadette. Oh, wait. And Attachments. Sigh. I will buy that book and I will take it down from my shelves periodically, smell the pages, and then pet it like a baby kitten. And I don’t even care that ‘baby kitten’ is redundant so shut your face. ANYWAY my point is that I need to own my very own copy of this book because it’s pretty and it makes me happy and it has recipes inside, so it’s like, HELLO, you are a good book and also there is food inside of you. Can we please get married now?
I’m not exactly sure how internet famous Lucy Knisley is, but I’ve been following her online comics for at least five years now, probably more, and her comics always have this great mix of whimsy and personal history. I always find myself nodding along in recognition when I’m reading them, like, yes, yes HOW DID YOU KNOW. Plus, she draws good cat. Not that there’s any cat in this book (to its detriment), but there is lots of food, it being a food memoir and all. In Relish, she chronicles her most vivid food-related memories with loving attention, painting lovely pictures of how food has been inextricably linked to important moments in her life. Plus, she’s funny.
With parents who were both foodies, and a mother who is a chef, she probably (definitely) had more exposure to classier types of food than most people, but she’s by no means a food snob, as is made clear by the chapter about her love of junk food (much to her parent’s disapproval). Even the more bittersweet parts of Knisley’s story (like her parent’s divorce) are tempered by the joy she obviously takes in both her art, and in her love of food. It’s a delicious book, in like every connotation of that word. If you like graphic memoirs or food, definitely check this out.