Book Review: Spaniel Rage

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Spaniel Rage, Vanessa Davis, 203 pgs, Drawn and Quarterly, drawnandquarterly.com, $19.95

I was afraid Vanessa Davis’ graphic novel Spaniel Rage was going to be another make-it-in-the-big-city memoir, but thankfully, the perceptions in this work run a little deeper than public transit woes. Davis’ illustrated diary is at once too much and too little information, revealing quick bursts of daily life, never lingering, with just the right amount of insight to keep me curious. This lack of context is refreshing and honest, as Davis expertly chooses scenes to show a regular occurrence, brightened with punches of dialogue about lap dances, big butts (“You may not like it, but I look at it and I wanna SQUEEZE IT!”), and seagull attacks.

Self-deprecating and socially awkward, Davis draws her underwear-clad self lounging on her couch, enviously nonchalant- keeping things easy and loose, she includes the same tiny hearts we all drew around our crush’s names in grade school, and doesn’t mind filling an entire page with a self-portrait, book in hand. Like the text, Davis’ drawings are unconfined- there are no panel outlines or inhibitions to be found, giving this work the strange power of making me feel like Davis broke into my apartment and scribbled her life into my personal notebook, just for me. (Grace Bueler)

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