Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Trade Marks: The Underwater Welder

I have been trying to get my head around writing a review of The Underwater Welder for a couple of weeks now. My reviews tend to be quite short, so how could one puny review present such a problem? Well, it has to do with sorting through the emotions I felt while reading Jeff Lemire's deceptively simple work. Why do I choose to use the word 'deceptively'? As always, Lemire's choice of a small cast of characters and everyday setting belies the complex themes at work here. The Underwater Welder touches on loss, grief, maturation and responsibility, all in this tale of a man-child still emotionally and spiritually tethered to the memory of his long deceased father. A small handful of words or a glint in a character's squiggly eyes is all that Lemire needs to break your heart or fill you with hope. Perhaps I'm the perfect customer for this stuff as I've lived in Nova Scotia and spent half my life on Toronto streetcars, but I truly think that there's a universal appeal to his work. There is a through line from the Essex County Trilogy all the way to this book, and it has to do with Lemire's profound understanding of humanity and the myriad of emotions that can make up a single day. This book is haunting on quite a few levels (I haven't even touched on the spirtual/supernatural aspects) and is a fine candidate for repeat visits down the road. Trade Mark: A+

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