book : Gilbert Hernandez | Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories
song : Gotan Project | El Capitalismo Foráneo
This is the case where you’d love the book, or you just wanna puke reading it. Obviously if I’m not crazy in love with it, Palomar would never get the special #13 in #30hari30buku30lagu because this is my favorite number. The compilation of stories is set in a make-believe Central American seaside village of Palomar. Gilbert Hernandez merges the mien of Archie with the opulent Faulkner’s characters and then positions them as a melodramatic stroke of a sultry soap opera and morph these elements into a stupendous narrative art.
In one of the stories, Hernandez wanders through how generations relate to one another in small community while channeling the spirit of Latin-American mojo as those forged by Gabriel García Márquez. In my opinion this is a form of pan-American saga that traverses multiple peer groups of a family ruled mostly by women. Palomar revolves around two major characters:
- Luba, a spunky sexpot with a chain of unwanted children
- Heraclio, an egghead with a goody-goody smear
In the book, Hernandez covered every aspect of life from mortality to constitutional affairs. Short stories rendering the contemporary world’s impingement on a district garden area. Longer writings colored the book with how the past adulterate the present, how tourists obtrude on privacy in daily basis, far-flung commuters, disease epidemic and how all propagate barbarity and discontentment. The writer sew his personal view on creative impotence and his sympathy to modern-day mayhem into a page-turning epic. Palomar ends with a story set in the town whose details along the way leaning towards a ho-hum, stuffed, and baffled milieu by the use of rapid time jumps. It carries Hernandez’s most puissant illustrations: the mind boggling sketch of a sculptor entombing a guise of the town’s inhabitants in a lake, in order to be unsullied later on as a testament of the perennial Palomar.
Not that I’m saying this is a gory comic or that there’s no surrealism. Au contraire, it has sudden flashes of macabre ferocity that are truly horrific because they happen to characters you’ve watched grow before your eyes. Its sudden flights into the unreal (in la-la-lands and deliriums) are the more compelling for that. I am insistent on putting my money that Palomar is one of—if not, the most—vital comic art ever drawn. To read vigorously or sporadically, Palomar caters to my need of consuming the world’s ugliest fresco. A breed of über pictorial book constructed by the life of Palomar inhabitants outlined with vivid boorishness that is Hernandez’s drawing style, the facial and body dialect marvel. By the time I finished the book, and witnessed characters move away, return, marry, die, mess up, it’s disturbing that I was sure I’ve obtained a whole new set of friends in my head. Once, I even called up a friend and shouted, “Oh my God! Look at what Tonantzín just did!” in the middle of reading it. Inevitably, quite emblematic of how Palomar has become a real-life place to me.