Fly­ing Couch

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Graphic Novels -

Amy Kurzweil, Black Bal­loon Pub­lish­ing, Soft­cover $17.95 (288pp) 978-1-936787-33-3

Amy Kurzweil’s Fly­ing Couch: A Graphic Mem­oir is a bit un­usual as mem­oirs go—though it is the story of her life thus far, Kurzweil’s ac­count is largely ab­sent of the kind of phys­i­cal or emo­tional trau­mas that too of­ten seem to be a re­quire­ment in mem­oirs. She’s hon­est about her ef­forts to live a life that’s in­de­pen­dent but that still in­cor­po­rates her fam­ily, in­clud­ing her mother, who is a psy­chother­a­pist, and her grand­mother Bubbe, a Holo­caust sur­vivor. Kurzweil tells the sto­ries of all three, but Bubbe’s har­row­ing sto­ries of sur­vival nat­u­rally dom­i­nate the book, with an im­me­di­acy that Kurzweil’s own life lacks. In rec­og­niz­ing this, how­ever, Kurzweil is able to merge her grand­mother’s tale into a larger work about a young woman find­ing her way in the world. Kurzweil also uses hu­mor through­out Fly­ing Couch, which helps to pro­vide a com­mon thread amid the poignant, the sub­lime, and the com­mon­place.

Kurzweil’s black-and-white art is ex­pres­sive, and she uses cre­ative touches like a Chutes-and-lad­ders-in­spired game board to il­lus­trate the po­ten­tial ben­e­fits and haz­ards of life in New York City, and plenty of draw­ings from maps and pho­to­graphs.

The book’s ti­tle is a nod to the in­fa­mous “psy­chother­a­pist’s couch,” and as Kurzweil takes the in­flu­ences of her mother’s train­ing and her grand­mother’s ex­pe­ri­ences, and re­flects on her own life, it’s easy to re­late to her ef­forts to find in­di­vid­u­al­ity with­out cast­ing off the love and pro­tec­tion of fam­ily. Young peo­ple, in par­tic­u­lar, should find Fly­ing Couch an en­joy­able and ed­i­fy­ing read.

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