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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Quick Review: Don't Go Where I Can't Follow

Posted by Alison Hallett on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 10:59 AM

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I filed this under "Comic Books" because creator Anders Nilsen is best known as a cartoonist—in 2012, Drawn and Quarterly released the excellent Big Questions, a massive collection of the series Nilsen has been self-publishing for decades. It's a great book, albeit a giant, expensive one, in which tiny, adorable animals contemplate life's mysteries.

The absolutely gutting Don't Go Where I Can't Follow, recently rereleased by Drawn and Quarterly, isn't strictly a comic book, though. It's more of a scrapbook, collecting letters and photos from the beginning, middle and end of Nilsen's relationship with Cheryl, his girlfriend/fiancee who ultimately died of cancer.

Like Ann Patchett's Truth and Beauty or Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, Don't Go is hard to read because you know exactly how it ends, even as carries you along with style and charm. The book documents journeys large and small taken by the couple, camping and to Paris and to a crappy hotel in New Jersey, concluding with Nilsen's painful-to-observe drawings of Cheryl in the hospital, plugged into various tubes.

Anders initially released the book in a limited run; the idea of making a profit off it, he writes in his conclusion, made him deeply uncomfortable. Years later he came around to putting it out in wider release, and I'm glad he did. It's a slight book, but it packs an incredible emotional impact, the kind that immediately makes you more grateful for the people in your own life.

UPDATE!
: Erik wrote about this book for us in 2007 when it first came out. He thought it didn't "click," which is Erik code for "I was told there would be hobbits."

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