Review: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life

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Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life (Scott Pilgrim, #1)Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If there’s anyone listening, hear this: don’t you ever, and I mean fucking ever, choose James Joyce’s Ulysses for a book report/class project/extra credit assignment. Skip that bastard, I warn you now.

Moving on.

This, folks, was my first graphic novel. Ever. And, honestly, I don’t think the experience could have been much better. The dialogue is snappy and clever, the plot is fun, and the characters are interesting. I was blown away.

Let me take you back in time for a moment.

When I was ten, I tried to like comic books. I even went to the length of buying one. I had my mom drive me to a gas station in order to peruse their collection. I ended up walking away with a copy of Rocket Man (?) or some such bullshit, all because it had the words “damn” and “hell” in the random pages I’d skipped through (building a legacy, I was). I must’ve read that dumbass comic thirty times before I finally gave up. I just couldn’t get it. Since then, I’ve maintained the firm stance that all comics suck.

Then yesterday, I had some down time. I was wandering through the library and checking out the teen section (as that’s my professional specialty these days). I stopped in front of the graphic novels and decided to take in the scenery. My eyes quickly found this one, as Kristin and I had enjoyed the movie quite a bit. It was quirky and fun and oh-so-Michael-Cera. So I picked it up, plopped down, and read it in a single sitting.

Here’s where I’m really surprised at myself. I expected to read the first couple of pages and walk away disappointed. Or disgusted. Or annoyed. I didn’t expect to compulsively turn the pages like I was reading Charles Bukowski or Nicole Krauss. I didn’t expect to have a really, really good time.

This is me giving graphic novels a chance. I checked out the second Scott Pilgrim volume to devour this weekend (instead of the Joyce(which fucking sucks(but I kind of already said that, didn’t I(though you do deserve adequate warning)))).

P.S. The author has the baddestass last name ever. You should read this book based on that alone.

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4 thoughts on “Review: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life

  1. I must admit, I’m also hesitant to read the graphic novels. I think what made the movie entertaining for me was all the bells-and-whistles that take the film beyond the typical boundaries of a film. As for the story… eh. Sure, it’s fun in that teenager coming-of-age sort of way, but if you strip away the evil exes, it’s still the whole “boy meets/falls in love with/ loses/ wins back the girl”. I’ve just grown to hate that sort of thing because I see it again and again and again. I might check it out, but I’m not overly optimistic for it.

    I also read my first graphic novel quite recently, V for Vendetta, and I also read it in a single sitting. I’m thinking I’ll probably move on to the Watchmen graphic novel after that. I think one good point about graphic novels is that they’re fully rounded narratives, and you know they have an end. Whereas with serial comics, they just seem to go on and on, the equivelant of TV sit coms, nothing really truly changes from one edition to the next.

    As for Ulysses, yeah, it’s a bit ambitious trying to do an assignment on it. I started reading it last year, I read a bit more than a third of it in a week, was about half way through it in about a month, then I started reading other things. I was actually really enjoying it, but I have a short attention span, I need to read books quickly. I’ll probably try finishing it some time this year, as it is pretty hefty, but I definitely wouldn’t say it “fucking sucks”. It’s actually one of the few ‘classics’ I felt I actually liked. Most of the time, classic literature just bores me.

    1. Hey Shane,

      Thanks for the comment. Perhaps I’ll check out V is for Vendetta. I’ve heard good things about Watchmen, too. Of course, I’ve ignored everything I’ve heard because it all relates to graphic novels. I’m going to have to seek out recommendations that I’ll actually listen to this time around.

      Generally, I’m a big fan of classic literature. I’m actually a librarian in real life and have spent a fair amount of time on the classics. I thought Ulysses would be awesome. It’s big, difficult, and full of obscure references. It seemed like the very kind of heavy thing I needed at that time I started it. But I hate it. I enjoyed Tolstoy’s descriptions of the financial aspects of grain farming, but I can’t stand anything Joyce has to say. I can’t remember a time when I enjoyed a book less than this, and I seem to dislike the majority of what I read. I can see the appeal for other people, though. It’s certainly got value for other readers, just not for me.

      1. I think when it comes to graphic novels/manga, there’s just so much of it, and I’m not overly into that sort of thing either, you really need to be selective with it. I’d like to read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series at some point in time, as well as a horror manga called Uzumaki. I know people that are big on manga or comics and all that stuff, and I just think, there’s no way I can do that.

        I think maybe I like Ulysses because it is such a challenge. Like I’ll read a chunk of it and know roughly what’s going on, but I’ll be struggling to keep up with what the characters are talking about. I’ve always been a bit strange with classical literature. Even stuff like the Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye, I’ve been told they’re edgy and they’re the sort of classics I’d like. I mean, I don’t think they’re bad, they’re just not to my tastes. Maybe I’ve just been reading too much postmodern and bizarro books lately, that anything remotely normal seems like it’s had the volume turned down.

        Also, on a side note; I read the Egg Said Nothing a bit over a month ago and thought it was fantastic.

  2. I think that’s a wise way to go with the manga. I’m thinking I’m going to edge my way in with stuff I feel safer reading. That horror manga you mentioned might be just the thing. I’m glad you mentioned Gaiman’s stuff, too. I’d forgotten all about it. I think, in addition to Sandman, I might give the graphic novel adaptation of Coraline a shot.

    What you describe is exactly the way I felt about Anna Karenina. I can certainly see why a bizarro fan might totally dig Ulysses (in the same way he/she might enjoy William Burroughs or Kafka). It’s certainly out there. Joyce makes an ordinary day so completely out of the ordinary that it’s rendered (for me, at least) nearly incomprehensible. There’s certainly a high degree of talent and no small amount of art in that.

    Thanks for reading it! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I love hearing that.

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