Author: Jeffrey Koterba
My edition: Houghton Mifflin Hardcover 2009
Borrowed From: Hoboken Public Library
Synopsis (from Strand): Political cartoonist Jeffrey Koterba grew up as an awkward twitchy child, his body bursting with the same unsettling nervous tics as his father–a talented musician whose dreams of fame had faded leaving him an eccentric alcoholic who obsessively fills the house with broken electronics. To escape the instability of his home, Jeff fled to the Sunday comics, copying the strips he loved, and making his own. After his rebellious teenage years, this love of drawing would become his livelihood and salvation, as he struggled with his troubled family life and his long-undiagnosed Tourette’s syndrome. INKLINGS is a pitch-perfect memoir filled with a self-deprecating humor and a complete absence of sentimentality. The prose is pithy vivid and as full of feeling and nuance as the author’s art.
I read this because: The cover caught my eye every time I went into a bookstore, and I read a good review of it in an issue of Entertainment Weekly.
My thoughts: This is a great memoir for many different reasons. Mainly I loved it because it’s a wonderful portrait of a person working hard and devoting their life to their passions, and eventually making a career from it. It’s also fascinating to read about what it’s like to live with Tourette’s syndrome. And, not least of all, it’s a (not sappy) story of rising above an imperfect childhood/home life and other challenges without bitterness.
Book club worthy? I’ve said before: I don’t personally enjoy discussing memoirs in book groups, but this one would make for better discussion than most.
Follow up required: I want to check out the music of Jeffrey Koterba’s swing band, Prairie Cats. :) I also enjoyed browsing his editorial cartoons on his website (link below).
You might like this book if you like: A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
My favorite lines & passages:
Trying to not stare at the corner is like being thirsty on the hottest day of the school year but not being allowed to leave the room to get a drink. The more you can’t get a drink, the thirstier you become. You raise your hand and ask your teacher if you can be excused to get a drink, but she says no, you just had a drink a little while ago. You’ll have to learn patience, she says. But your mouth is so dry and you just know you’re going to die. In this moment it’s the corner that I thirst for. (page 62-63)
I will not allow my embarrassment and fear to overshadow what hasn’t yet happened. (page 256)