Even by Clowes’ own estimation, he thought he’d spend maybe two years working on this book, and not the five it eventually took him (I’m, of course, avoiding the obvious joke given the title).
Patience is the story of Jack and his wife Patience, and what happens when he comes home one day to find Patience dead and later gets his hands on a time machine. Sounds kitsch, but it isn’t. It’s a beautiful book, full of heartbreak and longing, full of reliving one’s past, putting oneself at risk for someone else. I’ve read everything Clowes has every put out and more than anything this book seems to be a distillation of his entire oeuvre – part Ghost World, part Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, part David Boring, part The Death Ray, it’s parts of them all really, but so much more than the sum of them.
The thing that struck me the most is how human this book is, how heartfelt and real the emotions are, how we follow Jack’s desperate search to somehow save his already dead wife. And that’s a humanity that I felt was lacking in his previous couple of books, Wilson and Mister Wonderful.
A rumination on love and loss with some of Clowes’ most gorgeous and striking art. His mastery of the page, and the panel, clear in this book; little things like overheard speech are shown as partially visible speech bubbles – nothing new there, he’s been doing that for years – but his craft is quite breathtaking. The book really is something that defies easy summation but it has lodged in brain ever since I read it, and I find myself thinking it over – always the sign of a good book.
One of America’s finest cartoonists and this is very much the book he was always meant to write. I cannot recommend it enough.
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.