10 August 2015

Review: An Age of License and Displacement by Lucy Knisley

An Age of License by Lucky KnisleyI loved Lucy Knisley's memoirs French Milk and Relish but for some reason fell behind reading her newest travel memoirs, An Age of License and Displacement. Her first two books were perfect for the foodie in me, and I was looking forward to more of the same. Although Knisley's latest work is a little less culinary focused, I still enjoyed the books.

An Age of License documents Knisley's trip to a Norwegian comic con, and then her continued travels to Sweden to see a guy she likes, to Germany to meet up with friends, and finally to France to visit another friend and spend a few days with her mother (who is traveling with friends).

Much of the book is about Knisley's relationship with Henrik, a young man she met in New York and then traveled with in Sweden and Germany and then later in Paris. Knisley also talks about her insecurities at her newfound fame in the comics world and her relationship with her mother and her mother's friends in France.

Displacement by Lucy KnisleyThe second book, Displacement, is about a cruise she went on as a kind of chaperone to her aging grandparents. Knisley is quite frank about her thoughts, frustrations, and heartache when she discovers that her grands are sliding into dementia. Juxtaposed throughout her travelogue are excerpts from her grandfather's World War II diary, which she brought along hoping to use it to prompt some conversation. Instead, Knisley gains a deeper understanding of her grandfather and her own larger background.

In An Age of License, Knisley is still a self-indulgent twenty-something, enjoying the last days of freedom before settling down into her so-called real life. She is transitioning between young adulthood to true adulthood, beginning to gain a more mature outlook. In Displacement she sees some of the harder aspects of old age, and her reactions seem very real and honest, especially for a young woman still in her twenties.

The artwork in An Age of License is mostly black and white and in Knisley's trademark spare style with unbordered panels. Displacement is in full color and the art is slightly more detailed, but it is still recognizably Knisley. The excerpts from her grandfather's diary are in sepia, which works well.

Although each of these books can be read on their own, the arc of Lucy Knisley's maturation, both as a graphic memoirist and as a person, is best understood by reading all four books in order. Food lovers beware: food and eating are not the focus of either of Knisley's latest work. I enjoyed An Age of License but thought Displacement to have the stronger emotional impact.

Twenty-somethings may be able to relate more readily to Knisley's emotional turmoil than older readers, but her artwork and openness have a wide appeal.

Published by Fantagraphics, 2014 and 2015
ISBN-13: 9781606997680 and 9781606998106
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


bermudaonion 8/10/15, 8:17 AM  

I loved An Age of License and totally forgot about Displacement but, thanks to your post, I just put it on hold at the library.

Amanda 8/10/15, 9:10 AM  

I admit that Age of License was a bit of a disappointment to me after loving her first two, but Displacement totally made up for it.

Unknown 8/10/15, 9:37 AM  

I've never heard of these books, the artwork caught my eye on Bloglovin and I had to see what it was about. They sound awesome.I'm going to read them in order as you suggest.

Lindsey 8/10/15, 9:41 AM  

I've been meaning to read those two. What a great idea to read them together to see how Knisley grows!

Vasilly 8/10/15, 11:06 AM  

I LOVED Relish, so I haven't picked up this two latest books by the author. I should change that though. Thanks for writing about them.

Daryl 8/10/15, 11:52 AM  

thanks, these sound interesting ... putting them on my TBR list

Sue Jackson 8/10/15, 7:14 PM  

Oh, I have so wanted to read these 2 latest additions to her work, but my library system doesn't have either yet. I may need to put in a special request :)

Thanks for the great reviews!


Book By Book

Vicki 8/11/15, 11:22 AM  

I borrowed Relish from the library before but it had to go back before I got around to reading it. It's this month's choice for one of the online book clubs I belong to, so I plan on reading it this month.

I suppose after that I need to check out her other books.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity 8/11/15, 4:05 PM  

I had to revisit my mini-thoughts on Age of License and it turns out I enjoyed it (I did not like French Milk but LOVED Relish). I can definitely see how it would be interesting to read Age of License with Displacement. But you're right--there is something really interesting/fascinating watching Lucy as a person evolve throughout her books.

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