"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, June 17, 2012

"New York Mon Amour" by Jacques Tardi

Jacques Tardi is pure gold.  I almost want to say he's my favorite filmmaker, but he's not a filmmaker, he's a graphic novelist/artist. He has done everything from turn-of-the-century Paris noir to classic crime noir, to this book "New York Mon Amour," a snapshot of 1980's New York...that is noir.  One feature length story and three short one's - and what he captures is the foreigner's on their last legs looking at NYC as an exit to even maybe even a worst world out there. 

The first (and the most longish) narrative "Cockroach Killer" (written by Benjamin Legrand) is about a refugee from World War Two, who lives and works in NYC as a bug exterminator.  Which means he travels through out the city going for the dirt and the inner-lives of its citizens.  A sort of 'another take' on the William Burroughs exterminator character, but this character is not as tough, he's just surviving on the filth that was (or is) NYC.   On one of his jobs he visits the 13th floor of a Manhattan building, because normally there isn't a 13th floor - nevertheless he comes across a school of mysterious  assassins. For a brief moment his life is thrown into a world of a haunted and chased man.  The narrative being used to examine the inner-life of New York as it is being slowly destroyed.

What's left is two short stories by Dominique Grange, who is married to Tardi, that examines the life of a troubled assassin who couldn't complete his mission and the other on a woman from Vietnam who is tracking down someone from her past in Manhattan.  And again, both stories are snapshots taken from a foreigner's point-of-view of going through hell, and that state of mind is the landscape of New York.  

Tardi's own story "Manhattan" is nothing but that.  Probably the most ultimate alternative view of a tourist coming to NYC to ....  well you should just read it.  Nevertheless, Tardi has a master's touch in capturing the coldness in life and I really feel he's a master in his field.

Excerpt from "New York Mon Amour"

Jacques Tardi