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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Hand-Drying in America: And Other Stories (Graphic Novel)

by: Ben Katchor

Publisher: Pantheon (March 5, 2013)

Hardcover 160 pages

Finished 5/2/2017

Amazon Listing  

          The Extension Fallacy is when an arguer takes a statement and exaggerates the parameters so much that it becomes completely ridiculous idea. This perfectly defines the humor in Hand Drying in America. The strips revolve around the nuances of city life. Much of them are concerned the variances of architecture in a New York City-esque environment. The constant raising and destruction of buildings, as depicted in this books paints a picture of a city landscape that drifts back and forth like an ocean current, where the occupants try to find stability and meaning in a chaotic ever shifting concrete jungle.
          The stories take mundane aspects and illuminate them to ridiculous heights. Such as the couple tired of the sealed wrapping in these new condiment styles that hire people to open up the packets for them. To the man who is obsessed with BTU outputs and heat sinks so that he marries a woman that radiates a lot of warmth. To a man who is preoccupied with the gravel in his driveway being taken away by strangers that he eventually has his daughter’s fiancĂ©e arrested for theft.  
Author Ben Katchor
          Katchor’s artistic style adds to the surrealist element. Colored in muted tones, the charterers are drawn as almost grotesque caricatures of people. Rigid smiles that reek of false friendliness, like off-center candid stills where the participant was caught in an awkward moment. Stiff limbs, like an old timey photograph where a person had to stand rigid for 10 minutes before the shutter snapped. These all add to his dry sense of humor and make a reader believe that we are just one beat away from some of his stories being true.
          It is a beautiful oversized book, 11.8 x 0.9 x 12.3 inches, with each page containing one of Katchor full strips. All of these were originally published in Metropolis, an architectural magazine, which this strip had been published in from 1998 until it recently ending in December of 2016.

           For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

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