I kept hearing rave reviews of the graphic novel Here by Richard Mcguire from a wide range of sources, including my favorite podcast, Books on the Nightstand, so I requested it from my library. It’s going to be hard to describe this very unique, fascinating book, but I will try to do it justice.
Here is not a typical graphic novel. In fact, it’s not typical of anything but is a wholly unique creation. The entire book is made up of 2-page color spreads showing one corner of a house over different periods of time, ranging from 3,000,000,000 BCE to 22,175, though most of the pages fall somewhere within human history (and obviously, there was no house on that spot for some of those years!). I had expected the book to be in chronological order, but the time periods jump around throughout the book, though there are a few pages that show a sequence in a particular year. So, within the first ten pages of the book, we see that corner of the house in 2015, 1957, 1942, 2007, and 1623. Sometimes, there are small insets of a different time period layered on top of the base picture of the room in another year.
On each two-page spread, the view is of the corner of a ground floor living room in some unmentioned location (but East Coast, given the colonial goings-on in the 1770’s). We see the house go through all sorts of different styles in interior design but also its varying inhabitants carrying on their normal daily lives. Sometimes, when there are a few pages in sequence, we even see those inhabitants growing up or growing older. As I mentioned, the pages are not chronological, so you might see a 1950’s living room on one page, Native Americans in a pristine forest on the next, a futuristic scene on the next, and a present-day view of the living room on the next.
|Sample 2-page spread from Here, showing multiple years - click to enlarge|
The book is an absolutely fascinating history of the world as seen from one small spot. There is plenty of nostalgia in the 1950’s furnishings or the 1970’s fashions, and it is interesting to peruse the changes in human history from one century to the next. It may sound impersonal, but some years are returned to multiple times, so there are some recurring “characters,” even if we don’t know their names, and on those sequential pages that follow the same scene, we get glimpses of little human dramas.
You can’t just read this book from the beginning to the end and then set it aside. It just begs to be picked up again and again and studied intently. I found myself flipping pages back and forth to remind myself of what had been shown for a certain year or where a person had showed up before. It is endlessly fascinating. The beautiful hardcover book would be perfect to keep out on your coffee table for people to peruse, except they would probably keep walking off with it, unable to tear themselves away from the history and drama playing out on its pages…all within one corner of one house.