Sunday, October 18, 2009

Inklings by Jeffrey Koterba

When Jeffrey Koterba was six, he started drawing his first cartoons, painstakingly copying from the Sunday Omaha World Herald’s funny papers and making up his own characters. With a pen and a sheet of white paper, he was able to escape into a world that was clean, expansive, and comfortable—a refuge from the pandemonium surrounding him.

The tiny house Koterba grew up in was full-to-bursting with garage-sale treasures and televisions his father Art repaired and sold for extra money. A hard-drinking one-time jazz drummer whose big dreams never seemed to come true, Art was subject to violent facial and vocal tics—symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome, a condition Jeffrey inherited—as well as explosions of temper and eccentricity that kept the Koterba family teetering on the brink of disaster.

From the canyons of broken electronics, the lightning strikes, screaming matches, and discouragements great and small emerged a young man determined to follow his creative spirit to grand heights. And much to his surprise, he found himself on a journey back to his family and the father he once longed to escape. An exuberant, heart-felt memoir that calls to mind The Tender Bar and Fun Home, Inklings is infused with an irresistible optimism all its own.

Let me start off by telling you that Inklings is not a graphic novel memoir. I made the mistake of thinking it was due to something I read on an Amazon page, so don't make the same mistake. I think that disappointment might have soured my reading experience a bit.

Inklings is split up into three sections, Jeffrey's childhood, teen years, and adulthood. I could have done without 3/4 of the first section. For me the stories seemed rather repetitive in Jeffrey's childhood, almost always revolving around his father's antics. I really disliked his father until the last section of the book when he had mellowed out with age. He was just not easy to read about.

The book really gets going for me towards the end of the second section when Jeffrey is in college and his cartooning starts to become very important in his life. Don't get me wrong, from the very beginning we see Jeffrey drawing cartoons. But when he starts to pursue it professionally the book really takes off. I wish Jeffrey's cartooning was a larger focus in the book. I loved seeing him reach his dream, being a cartoonist at the newspaper he's read since he was a child. (Not a spoiler, it's in his bio!) It just felt really good to see him get something he worked so so hard for. I also liked reading about his family in the last part of the book. When they had all grown up and their parents had mellowed with age. They just all got along so much better.

Overall a slow start but with a satisfying ending.

Inklings will be released on November 3rd
Genre: Memoir
3/5 Stars
ARC provided by Amazon Vine


  1. Thanks for the honest and well-rounded review. I'll give it a look if I see it in the library, but I probably won't go out of my way to look for it.

  2. Thanks for the honest review. I'm not sure I would like this!

  3. Nice review. I don't think I'll be picking this up, however. It doesn't seem like my kind of book.

  4. Nice review. I think it sounds really interesting. That is a bummer it wasn't a graphic memoir like you wanted, but it still sounds good. Definitely check out Stitches by David Small if you want a graphic memoir. It was good, in my opinion.


    p.s. Leave a Mark is back :)

  5. I got this at SIBA because all the reps were raving about it. Now I'm wondering why.


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