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The Leaning Girl by Benoit Peeters and Francois Schuiten
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The Leaning Girl by Benoit Peeters and Francois Schuiten
Paperback $29.99
Jun 20, 2017 | ISBN 9781684050963

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  • Jun 20, 2017 | ISBN 9781684050963

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“Before dark energy and string theory entered the popular lexicon, the Belgian graphic novel wunderkind team of Schuiten and Peeters imagined how invisible cosmological forces might exercise their perplexing pull on a few select mortals in this fabulously original and haunting story, translated from the French. Mary Von Rathen, a charming sprite who drives her mother crazy with her boundless energy and insatiable imagination, embarks on the Star Express, an amusement park attraction that leaves her leaning at a constant diagonal unable to stand up straight. Somehow, this incredible premise leads to a perfectly logical denouement involving competing dimensional realities and invisible planets with powerful gravitational fields. In a subplot, after being lambasted by the ranking art critics of the day, painter Augustin Desombres seeks refuge in an abandoned manor house on a desolate plane. The paths of Mary and Augustin finally cross in a creative and sexual conflagration of quantum proportions. The sixth in the ongoing, futuristic Obscure Cities series, The Leaning Girl offers superbly intricate artwork, and the writing has a literary scope that extends well beyond science fiction and flirts with greatness.” –Calvin Reid, Publishers Weekly

“This is one of my favorite graphic novels (or whatever you want to call them) from the last decade. It is connected in my mind both with Glimmerglass and with Station Eleven (see below). In a note to readers of this English translation, Benoit Peeters writes that it may be precisely because The Obscure Cities the Schuiten-Peeters series in which this volume belongs is fundamentally so full of holes and destined to remain incomplete that it invites so much outside participation from our readers. I can attest to that, since I came to this installment without any context and was drawn deeply into it.” –John Wilson, Christianity Today

“In a steampunk-influenced counter-earth, young Mary von Rathen suddenly stands off-kilter as if pulled by a different gravity. Professor Wappendorf readies an interplanetary rocket to investigate planet-threatening dangers, while an isolationist painter on Earth (depicted in photos) seeks his mysterious muse. All three meet in a Jules Verne-type center of the counter-Earth (Verne himself plays a bit part), and the mysteries are resolved. Schuiten’s haunting inked linesimpersonate Victorian engravings and counterpoint Plissart’s misty photos to give a beautiful nearly real quality. The counter-Earth locales are fully embodied with visual magic, including Mary’s sometimes delicately sexual adventures. Yet even if it might seem to follow from the setup, the sad conclusion that life’s responsibilities trump art, imagination, and love seems denied by the artfulness of the work itself. 

“VERDICT: Bemusement for the eyes and mind, this sets a high mark for sublime art and imaginative plotting, even if one debates the resolution….It’s a solid bet for lovers of philosophical, alt-world fiction.” –Martha Cornog, Library Journal

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