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Essex County PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: Essex County
Author: Jeff Lemire
Publisher: Published August 1st 2009 by Top Shelf Productions (first published June 15th 2009)
ISBN: 9781603090384
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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Where does a young boy turn when his whole world suddenly disappears? What turns two brothers from an unstoppable team into a pair of bitterly estranged loners? How does the simple-hearted care of one middle-aged nurse reveal the scars of an entire community, and can anything heal the wounds caused by a century of deception? Award-winning cartoonist Jeff Lemire pays tribute Where does a young boy turn when his whole world suddenly disappears? What turns two brothers from an unstoppable team into a pair of bitterly estranged loners? How does the simple-hearted care of one middle-aged nurse reveal the scars of an entire community, and can anything heal the wounds caused by a century of deception? Award-winning cartoonist Jeff Lemire pays tribute to his roots with Essex County, an award-winning trilogy of graphic novels set in an imaginary version of his hometown, the eccentric farming community of Essex County, Ontario, Canada. In Essex County, Lemire crafts an intimate study of one community through the years, and a tender meditation on family, memory, grief, secrets, and reconciliation. With the lush, expressive inking of a young artist at the height of his powers, Lemire draws us in and sets us free. This new edition collects the complete, critically-acclaimed trilogy (Tales from the Farm, Ghost Stories, and The Country Nurse) in one deluxe volume! Also included are over 40-pages of previously unpublished material, including two new stories.

30 review for Essex County

  1. 4 out of 5

    Donovan

    This is Lemire's magnum opus. Love, heartbreak, loneliness, regret, friendship, family. The human condition pressed into one rural Canadian county. It's absolutely beautiful. And I read it in two hours. What I love about Essex County is its ethereal bending of reality, the way memory or imagination can be true but also false. The way Lester can fly, or Lou can travel through time. The ethereal, the way these characters' stories are intricately tied together like a Faulkner story, as well as the s This is Lemire's magnum opus. Love, heartbreak, loneliness, regret, friendship, family. The human condition pressed into one rural Canadian county. It's absolutely beautiful. And I read it in two hours. What I love about Essex County is its ethereal bending of reality, the way memory or imagination can be true but also false. The way Lester can fly, or Lou can travel through time. The ethereal, the way these characters' stories are intricately tied together like a Faulkner story, as well as the superb writing, make this a transcendent five stars. I don't know if it's because I'm now a parent, getting older, or am deeply flawed like these characters, but this really got to me. Those quiet moments in life of joy and pain, when you wonder if it's just you in it alone or if everyone feels that way, are explored here. It's complicated yet simple, gracefully grand, and goes deeper than it probably should be able to, but it somehow does. There were so many incredible moments of writing where I just stopped and said, god damn it, how did he do that? Like all his indie work, Lemire also illustrates. It's a style of its own, paired perfectly to his writing. Black and white, stark, rough, impressionistic, and makes great use of light and white space. His facial expressions are amazing in this incredibly reductive, Saturday-cartoon style, but it manages to do the heavy lifting and make one hell of an emotional impact. So there you have it, his greatest work, as great as everyone says it is.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    The more I read comics, the more I appreciate comics like this. The first comic I read back in 1998 or so was Miller's Dark Knight Returns. The second was Moore's Watchmen. Since then I've read me a lot of superhero comics. Some of them are really fine. I enjoy the hell out of a good batman story, and Whedon's X-men was some damn fine storytelling. But comics like this one and Blankets are an entirely different sort of story. They're stories about regular people living their lives, and I love se The more I read comics, the more I appreciate comics like this. The first comic I read back in 1998 or so was Miller's Dark Knight Returns. The second was Moore's Watchmen. Since then I've read me a lot of superhero comics. Some of them are really fine. I enjoy the hell out of a good batman story, and Whedon's X-men was some damn fine storytelling. But comics like this one and Blankets are an entirely different sort of story. They're stories about regular people living their lives, and I love seeing them in the comic medium.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    I almost finished this in one night and I could probably read it again; it's that good, with that much depth: literary fiction at its best. It's hard to say which of the three books collected here was my favorite, though the middle one, "Ghost Stories," the tale of two hockey-playing brothers from youth to their estrangement to old age probably elicited the most emotion from me. Within about ten pages I'd felt for the young boy and the old man whose paths cross in the snow, almost teared up at a I almost finished this in one night and I could probably read it again; it's that good, with that much depth: literary fiction at its best. It's hard to say which of the three books collected here was my favorite, though the middle one, "Ghost Stories," the tale of two hockey-playing brothers from youth to their estrangement to old age probably elicited the most emotion from me. Within about ten pages I'd felt for the young boy and the old man whose paths cross in the snow, almost teared up at a two-page wordless spread and then smiled at the smile on the face of the surviving brother, his own emotion evoked by the crow who flies, dives, swoops and perches throughout the pages. Smiles on the characters' faces are few and when they do appear, it is effective. Life in this fictional rural Ontario county is hard and lonely, and many of the characters are death-haunted and feel guilty. The third book, "The Country Nurse," takes us through the community and ties up some relationships with the historical account of how two ancestors of two of the families we already know arrived in Essex County. The illustration of the orphan with his patched blanket blowing in the wind like a cape as he points out the crow is another 'page-stopper.' Even the first book "Tales from the Farm," which appears simpler than the others at first, ends with a piece of sci-fi/fantasy that is psychologically acute. The 'extra' two short stories and other bonus materials add further to the lore of the area and give us another character whose smile is hard-earned and well-deserved. Unused promotional art for "The Country Nurse" could be viewed as a summation for the whole collection.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Pooja

    Astonishing is the word that fits to the review of it. It was beautiful. Poignant narration. The pictures are heart-breaking. They will stay in your mind for a long time. Such strong impact they will have. Do read this comic series when you find time.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Jose

    This book broke me. And then it fixed me. With Jeff Lemire’s name and bright cover art, I was expecting something heart-warming. It was warm, in fact too warm that it managed to melt my heart a little bit. Like the title says, it is the story of Essex County, an agrarian Hockey town, of its people and their lives spanning over generations. There are three separate stories that subtly segue between various characters and time periods. There is a prevailing sense of loneliness and longing in every c This book broke me. And then it fixed me. With Jeff Lemire’s name and bright cover art, I was expecting something heart-warming. It was warm, in fact too warm that it managed to melt my heart a little bit. Like the title says, it is the story of Essex County, an agrarian Hockey town, of its people and their lives spanning over generations. There are three separate stories that subtly segue between various characters and time periods. There is a prevailing sense of loneliness and longing in every character, be it the introvert boy ‘Lester’, one hit wonder ‘Lou’ or the Nurse 'Anne'. Jeff easily characterizes these emotions through art; through fonts, shadows, inanimate objects, snow and even the eyes of characters. The artwork here is more or less sequential, strictly minimal and monochromatic. And it was impressive how the concatenating narrative unraveled complicated relations in sheer simplicity, evoking strong emotions in the process. To each person Essex means something different, and they all have their personal passions to hold on to when the world around them slips. I found a lot of my confused childhood in ‘Lesters’ eyes; awkwardness and loneliness and escapism in comic book reality. Even in the absence of colours and detailing, little incoherent circles that formed his eyes, and single line that formed his facial expression, conveyed a lot to me than usual words would. Like brightening of those circles and downward curving of facial lines, when ‘Lester’ runs around, in his red cape. Jeff was honest in his literature and artistic depiction of guilt and loss, and their aftermath. There was a lot of similarity between 'Lester' and 'Lou', mostly on the pleasant side, and for more than once in the surreal business of flashbacks I suspected the latter being the elder version of former. The simultaneous loss of love and friendship drives 'Lou' to strong guilt, the kind that doesn’t allow you to move on or be happy. He tries to make sense of my his lonely life by holding on to the only thing that matters- Hockey, to which he was a one hit wonder of; yet his life somehow finds its way back to the focal point of tragedy. The subtle difference between grief and guilt was addressed in surprising detail here, like how others move on with their life and you are left with a perpetrator guilt that runs simulations of ‘what if’ scenarios in your head over and over. And even after eons, the first thing that gets to your head about a broken friendship would be that focal point. You will be looking for excuses, trying to fix something that is permanently broken and that no one cares about anymore. Guilt kept Lou in a state of perpetual ‘Merlin Sickness’; shrinking him mentally towards the traumatic past, and physically away from it. The last story, involving the 'Nurse' was the one I connected least with even though it was the most communicative among the three. Yet, in a way, it was the story line I needed most. The whole book is predictable, occasionally surreal and even melancholic. But there is an element of magical realism in it, unreliability in the narration that bends reality between characters, time zones, dreams and memories. Jeff does a great job in making characters as real as possible, they age, they feel and they respond like normal human beings than someone sketched out of a paper. And above all, it is beautiful. As I was nearing the end of my reading, the book had left me devastated, badly in need of a hug. And surprisingly, by the time I reached the back cover, the book itself had become the very hug that I so badly needed.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    This book collects together what I think is one of the greatest achievements in comics in the last 10 years, Jeff Lemire's Essex County stories. Essex County is a part of Ontario, Canada, and the three books collected here - Tales from the Farm, Ghost Stories, and The Country Nurse - explores the area and it's inhabitants. Tales from the Farm follows a lonely boy called who has recently lost his mother, never knew his father, and is in the care of his uncle. The two have an awkward relationship This book collects together what I think is one of the greatest achievements in comics in the last 10 years, Jeff Lemire's Essex County stories. Essex County is a part of Ontario, Canada, and the three books collected here - Tales from the Farm, Ghost Stories, and The Country Nurse - explores the area and it's inhabitants. Tales from the Farm follows a lonely boy called who has recently lost his mother, never knew his father, and is in the care of his uncle. The two have an awkward relationship as they struggle to come to terms with grief and the balance of their relationship. Lester draws comics and dresses as a superhero, and finally makes a friend in the form of Jimmy LeBeuf, a gas station attendant who used to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs before an injury brought an end to his career. The two find a small measure of happiness in their bleak lives in their time talking together about comics and hockey. Ghost Stories follows the story of two brothers, Lou and Vince LeBeuf, who play minor league hockey in Toronto. They both dream of making it into the big leagues but Vince (the more gifted of the brothers at hockey) meets a girl, marries her, drops hockey, and starts a family and farm out in the country. Lou tries to crack the major leagues but incurs a career ending injury and spends his life driving a tram in Toronto. A dark secret splits these once close brothers so that they never speak for decades. The Country Nurse follows the story of Anne Byrne who looks after Lou LeBeuf as well as other people in Essex County. We find out about her lonely home life and her family's ancestors. The revelations in her family tie together the LeBeuf family and ties the trilogy together. Also included are the stories "The Essex County Boxing Club" and "The Sad and Lonely Life of Eddie Elephant Ears" as well as "Barnyard Scraps: Bonus Material". Lemire's artwork is nothing short of breathtaking. The haunting shadows of the bleak landscapes and the expressions on his characters' faces stay with you long after you've put the book down. There are many pages which stay in mind: Lou and Vinnie LeBeuf's final embrace, Lester and Uncle Kenny sitting down to dinner, Anne sitting at her kitchen table crocheting to Roy Orbison, and the final few pages with the crow. They're all imbued with a quiet tragedy and melancholy that you don't often see from comics. If you're a fan of comics but in particular the kind that you hope will match Will Eisner's "Contract with God Trilogy" for emotional power coupled with masterful storytelling and artwork you wish was big enough to decorate your walls, Jeff Lemire's "The Complete Essex County" is your book. I can't recommend it higher.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Oriana

    book #14 for Jugs & Capes! book #13 for my review series at CCLaP! Check out how cool Canada is: While we’re drooling over Real Housewives of Who the Fuck Cares, they’re watching a show called Canada Reads, where five famous people each pick a book and defend it, and then they all vote one book off each day, winding up with one winner, the book that “all of Canada should read.” That is fucking rad. I learned about that only because Essex County was in this year’s running—the first graphic nov book #14 for Jugs & Capes! book #13 for my review series at CCLaP! Check out how cool Canada is: While we’re drooling over Real Housewives of Who the Fuck Cares, they’re watching a show called Canada Reads, where five famous people each pick a book and defend it, and then they all vote one book off each day, winding up with one winner, the book that “all of Canada should read.” That is fucking rad. I learned about that only because Essex County was in this year’s running—the first graphic novel that’s ever had that honor. Even though it didn’t win, it’s clear that Canadians, at least, care about this book a lot. And from the little bit of research I did prior to writing this review, it seems like a lot of people like this book a lot. I’m sorry to say I’m not one of them. Oh, it’s not a bad book, it’s just not really for me. It’s incredibly, relentlessly bleak. It’s populated by extremely lonely people, people isolated by their own bad choices and by the deaths of those they’ve loved, people moving through their lives barely holding up under the weight of their accumulated sorrow and regret. It’s also about hockey. This is actually a collection of three volumes. Book one is about a boy living on his uncle’s farm after his mom has died; book two is an old man looking back over his heart-wrenching life as a failed pro hockey player; book three is about a disaster at an orphanage in the woods. The stories are straightforward, no-nonsense, kind of working-class-style comics. They have no pretensions, no machinations, no trickery. And they’re done well. The illustrations reinforce the bleakness of the stories, which takes place in (can you guess?) Essex County, Canada, where apparently it snows all the time. All of the stories have similar characters, who are either the same character or relatives of each other or just thematically linked, and this too is done very well, usually with just a particularly shaped nose. The characters are well formed, many with rich inner lives. And just about all of them play hockey, either for fun or professionally, and there are long game sequences, which even though I don’t really know all the rules of hockey were totally followable and dramatic. So yeah, for what it was, it was good. But it was just. so. sad. Too much loneliness, too much despair, too many uncorrectable mistakes, too many miserable people making each other more and more miserable. I hate that. I hate sad movies, too. It’s probably a failing in my character, but there you are. Life is sad enough; I don’t need to depress myself in my escapism too.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Maria (Big City Bookworm)

    #Read-EH-Thon Book #1 Essex County was the first book that I decided to pick up as part of Read-EH-Thon, a read-a-thon in which you are tasked to read books by Canadian authors! I have had this book sitting on my shelf for way too long now and I'm so glad I was able to finally pick it up. So many people told me how amazing it was, including the man who sold it to me at Fan Expo Canada a couple years back! It definitely lived up to the expectations! This story is told in three major parts, each fe #Read-EH-Thon Book #1 Essex County was the first book that I decided to pick up as part of Read-EH-Thon, a read-a-thon in which you are tasked to read books by Canadian authors! I have had this book sitting on my shelf for way too long now and I'm so glad I was able to finally pick it up. So many people told me how amazing it was, including the man who sold it to me at Fan Expo Canada a couple years back! It definitely lived up to the expectations! This story is told in three major parts, each featuring a different character from the town of Essex County, Ontario, Canada. This graphic novel was filled with so many Canadian things, but what stood out the most was the amount of hockey-related moments. It just felt so relatable for me coming from a family that LOVES hockey. More than that though, the stories told within Essex County are heartbreaking and tragic, but beautifully told. What I loved the most was the way that these separate stories all eventually connected in the most unexpected ways. This was a fantastic first read to pick up for Read-EH-Thon and I'm so glad I finally got to read it! HAPPY CANADA DAY EVERYONE!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ivan

    This is kind of story Lemire excels at. Slow, atmospheric and with carefully dosed pathos. Couple of reasons why I'm not giving it 5 stars. First, I didn't care much illustrations. They are really basic and characters where hard to differentiate at times. I did like color pallet though. Second, last story isn't on par with first two. It's still good but definitively weak link in this series. And third, this is personal story and I think it would have greater impact if I grew in similar environment, This is kind of story Lemire excels at. Slow, atmospheric and with carefully dosed pathos. Couple of reasons why I'm not giving it 5 stars. First, I didn't care much illustrations. They are really basic and characters where hard to differentiate at times. I did like color pallet though. Second, last story isn't on par with first two. It's still good but definitively weak link in this series. And third, this is personal story and I think it would have greater impact if I grew in similar environment, not half-across the world. Still it's wonderful graphic novel and easy to recommend even if name Jeff Lemire means nothing to you.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Melania 🍒

    3,75/5 Even if I didn’t feel a strong personal connection with these stories, I can appreciate their value. The Essex County feels like an intimate work , even more because it’s written and illustrated by the same person and because it is, above everything else, a Canadian story ( Lemire being Canadian). The art style is interesting - simple yet complex - and I have to admit it took me some time to get used to it. But those black and white drawings , especially the crow and those closeups of the 3,75/5 Even if I didn’t feel a strong personal connection with these stories, I can appreciate their value. The Essex County feels like an intimate work , even more because it’s written and illustrated by the same person and because it is, above everything else, a Canadian story ( Lemire being Canadian). The art style is interesting - simple yet complex - and I have to admit it took me some time to get used to it. But those black and white drawings , especially the crow and those closeups of the eyes ,crawled under my skin. Also, the way the three stories intertwined was a big plus for the story , the very ending being so satisfying. I’ll happily check Sweet Tooth when I’ll get a chance.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tim The Enchanter

    Emotional and Accessible - 5 Stars I don't read many comics or graphic novels in any given year. From time to time, one looks interesting enough to pick up and read through. Being that this is set where I live and grew up, the story was especially significant. There are several stories in the work told from the perspective of three main characters. Essex County is the major connection between the stories. The setting is developed to the point that it becomes a character and he uses several plot Emotional and Accessible - 5 Stars I don't read many comics or graphic novels in any given year. From time to time, one looks interesting enough to pick up and read through. Being that this is set where I live and grew up, the story was especially significant. There are several stories in the work told from the perspective of three main characters. Essex County is the major connection between the stories. The setting is developed to the point that it becomes a character and he uses several plot devices that make it feel that the setting is living and breathing. The device I most enjoyed with the use of the crow throughout the story. Those who live in Essex County are familiar with the bird. For years they plagued county and murders of crow could be found dotting the landscape, filling trees, weighing down electric line and eating any garbage in sight. Thought the day, the sound of gunshots were played on loudspeakers to scare the birds away. The crow became a symbol of our region. While I think the story allows a reader to understand this symbol, and others in the story, are representative of the setting, it was regional knowledge of these symbols that made the story even more special. Don't misunderstand, the reader need not possess insider knowledge to understand the story. On its own, the story is complex and exudes emotion in the way that only a graphic novel can. It does a wonderful job of exploring themes such as shared history, the need to belong and loneliness. This is mature story with many layers and plenty of imagery. I strongly urge you to read this.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Book Riot Community

    I’m rereading this for my Canadian comics class and I’m reminded, yet again, of what a masterpiece it is. This intergenerational story of life on a rural Ontario farm — and the dreams, be they of hockey or of superheroes, that sustain those lives — is moving and heartbreaking. Lemire’s art style is deceptive: what looks rushed and sketched belies an incredible depth of emotion (you will never, ever forget the eyes in this comic). I have no problem labelling this The Great Canadian Graphic Novel I’m rereading this for my Canadian comics class and I’m reminded, yet again, of what a masterpiece it is. This intergenerational story of life on a rural Ontario farm — and the dreams, be they of hockey or of superheroes, that sustain those lives — is moving and heartbreaking. Lemire’s art style is deceptive: what looks rushed and sketched belies an incredible depth of emotion (you will never, ever forget the eyes in this comic). I have no problem labelling this The Great Canadian Graphic Novel and sliding it onto my shelf alongside all of the greats of literature, from Alice Munro to Robertson Davies. (The influence of Davies is, I think, particularly strong in the trilogy structure here.) Read this. I know you’ll love it. — Brenna Clarke Gray From The Best Books We Read In March: http://bookriot.com/2015/04/01/riot-r...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Okay read. Kinda semi-biographical maybe? About living in Essex county that is in the Ontario province of Canada. My guess is that Canadian readers rated this high.

  14. 5 out of 5

    James DeSantis

    I so expected this to be one of my favorite graphic novels of all time. A deep, emotional, powerful story + Jeff Lemire's writing + Dark and twisted art. But... What I liked: The three separate stories made it fresh to go through a 500+ page book. I also liked some of the imagery. Dark and lost, deep and sad, you really felt the emotion from the characters. I also liked how the lives all intertwined with each of them. The ending result was also sweet, bitter, and left unfinished but not in a bad I so expected this to be one of my favorite graphic novels of all time. A deep, emotional, powerful story + Jeff Lemire's writing + Dark and twisted art. But... What I liked: The three separate stories made it fresh to go through a 500+ page book. I also liked some of the imagery. Dark and lost, deep and sad, you really felt the emotion from the characters. I also liked how the lives all intertwined with each of them. The ending result was also sweet, bitter, and left unfinished but not in a bad way. What I didn't like: The art is sketchy like and not all that well done sometimes for me. I also didn't get attached to the characters...at all. Like I tried to really get invested but nobody grabbed me sadly. I didn't really like the last part of it as well as the nurse was the least interesting and their backstory did nothing for me. I guess I'm so let down because I WANTED to love this but it just didn't click with me. I guess they can't all be winners. I'd still advise anyone who wants a good story to read this, if you get attached to the characters you might end up loving it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    OV

    É a obra maior - não só pelo tamanho, mas pela qualidade - do Jeff Lemire e isso só por si é suficientemente esclarecedor. Caramba, que livro é este? Esta edição...esta belissíma edição, assim é que é, da Top Shelf reúne a trilogia completa Essex County e ainda nos oferece dois contos adicionais e outros extras. É magnífica a forma como a história é contada, fragmentada em três partes bem distintas para acabar, surpreendentemente, de forma perfeitamente redonda. E se pararmos para pensar que est É a obra maior - não só pelo tamanho, mas pela qualidade - do Jeff Lemire e isso só por si é suficientemente esclarecedor. Caramba, que livro é este? Esta edição...esta belissíma edição, assim é que é, da Top Shelf reúne a trilogia completa Essex County e ainda nos oferece dois contos adicionais e outros extras. É magnífica a forma como a história é contada, fragmentada em três partes bem distintas para acabar, surpreendentemente, de forma perfeitamente redonda. E se pararmos para pensar que esta foi a segunda obra do autor, percebemos de imediato o talento fora de série que é o Lemire. A arte é dele - fantástico trabalho a preto e branco - e a história é dele...é dele porque foi ele que a escreveu e é dele porque foi a partir das próprias raízes que a construiu. O Jeff Lemire, tal como as personagens do livro, cresceu em Essex County, numa quinta perdida no meio de nada. É uma história que aborda, essencialmente, a solidão...as várias formas de solidão. É um trabalho que mostra uma sensibilidade rara e que é capaz de nos deixar emocionados em muitos momentos...mas nem por isso é um livro deprimente. É um livro que simplesmente mostra a vida a acontecer. Essex County é um dos meus livros preferidos de sempre...e esse é o maior elogio que lhe posso fazer. Da história não conto nada, deixo para vocês descobrirem, se puderem, se quiserem...leiam.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Manni

    I discovered Jeff Lemire through some of his superhero books like "Green Arrow" and "Animal Man" and already liked his writing quite a bit. During those reads I realized that I'm into the more subtle, personal and even depressing stories. That brought Lemire's earlier works to my attention and I found an affordable copy of "The Complete Essex County", which is now (officially!) one of my favorite books. The balance between human misery, sadness and small but powerful, heartwarming scenes and sing I discovered Jeff Lemire through some of his superhero books like "Green Arrow" and "Animal Man" and already liked his writing quite a bit. During those reads I realized that I'm into the more subtle, personal and even depressing stories. That brought Lemire's earlier works to my attention and I found an affordable copy of "The Complete Essex County", which is now (officially!) one of my favorite books. The balance between human misery, sadness and small but powerful, heartwarming scenes and single moments is just remarkable. Especially since Lemire is using such minimal and simple words, which are combined with his unquie artstyle that's applying facial expressions (those eyes!) extremely well. At first I couldn't grasp how the first story "Tales from the Farm" worked so well, cause there isn't happening too much to be honest, but somehow Lemire still manages make me care about the characters after only like the first half dozen pages. Although everything seems to be in a weirdly depressing and quiet state, the end of each story felt like being thrown out of a vortex of bitter emotions with just that tiny glance of hope and satisfaction that leaves you smiling. It's hard to put my reading experience in words (as you probably already noticed ;)), but I'v never read a story so simple from the outside, yet so powerful from the inside. I already started reading "The Underwater Welder" and got my eyes on "Sweet Tooth", of course ;)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Giedre

    4.5/5 Very Canadian, yet very universal. The Complete Essex County is a wonderful interconnecting trio of stories about community, family, loneliness, aging, etc.. I'm not good at talking about art, but there's a sparseness to it that fits the quiet nature of the stories perfectly. I didn't really know what to expect when I picked this one up, but I sure as hell didn't expect for it to quietly sneak right into my feels. Not my last Lemire, that's for sure.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rob Kristoffersen

    Hype. I hate the word, but yet I buy into it. Or I try to cast it aside. 'Collected Essex County' boasts multiple awards, including literary awards in Canada. In comics, breaking through the fourth wall means being that benchmark for literature. Transcending images on the page to stand proudly on a shelf with, in this case, the Margaret Atwoods or Michael Ondaatjes of the world. No cartoonist ever sets out to do this on purpose; hell, they're just doing what they know how to do in the best way t Hype. I hate the word, but yet I buy into it. Or I try to cast it aside. 'Collected Essex County' boasts multiple awards, including literary awards in Canada. In comics, breaking through the fourth wall means being that benchmark for literature. Transcending images on the page to stand proudly on a shelf with, in this case, the Margaret Atwoods or Michael Ondaatjes of the world. No cartoonist ever sets out to do this on purpose; hell, they're just doing what they know how to do in the best way that they can. If there is a benchmark for me with this book, it came through my friend Crys Lewis, who recently visited NYC. One of her stops was Midtown comics, and as sweet as she was, asked me if I wanted anything. This is what I asked for, and the response I got sounded like this: "It's sold out, they say it sells quick when it comes in." So, a little more hype bought and paid for by me. Finally I buckled and Amazoned this fine work of literature. It was shortly after I read 'The Underwater Welder' and fell in love with it. To be honest, as much as I loved 'The Underwater Welder,' this blew it away. Nestled in Ontario, Canada, Essex County, composed in three novellas, are the interweaving tales of the Lebeuf, Papineau, and Byrne families. Tragedy runs through the stories, cutting like a knife when they occur, but Lemire makes it all seem so natural and well timed, that you buy as the essence of life. All the characters here find themselves here due to a sets of circumstances. Everybody knows everybody's history. What makes this book so haunting is the essences of Canada that Lemire captures. Whether it's the sound of a hockey stick on ice, or a bird in the wild, Lemire knows this landscape, and hailing from Essex County certainly helps. His character work is top notch here; I love this book so much because the characters are relatable, I know what it's like to be from a small town, though at the end of the book, there are two splash pages that put everything in perspective. Hell, the bird that Lemire weaves through all these stories gives me goosebumps. I love this book; it transcends comic books fully to be this benchmark for literature on par with 'Watchmen,' 'Blankets,' and 'Sandman.' Read this book, it's so beautiful!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ally

    I loved this book. It's entry into the Canadian Literary Canon is well deserved. It speaks to the Canadian experience, both rural and urban living, and the importance of hockey to our culture. The art, how the author uses the stark contrast between black and white, with a soft grey-scale for the initial flashbacks, is masterful. One feature that particularly shone out for me was how the author uses the features of the characters to show how they're related to one another. It truly echoes the way I loved this book. It's entry into the Canadian Literary Canon is well deserved. It speaks to the Canadian experience, both rural and urban living, and the importance of hockey to our culture. The art, how the author uses the stark contrast between black and white, with a soft grey-scale for the initial flashbacks, is masterful. One feature that particularly shone out for me was how the author uses the features of the characters to show how they're related to one another. It truly echoes the way you wear your family on your face, and what carries through the generations. As well, the environment and backgrounds, and how they interact with the characters, are gorgeous. Another moment I enjoyed was the author's loving tribute to superhero comics, and the act of making comics themselves. This appears in the story-lines with Lester, a young boy who lives on the farm with his uncle. You're even shown Lester's early attempts at comic making, influenced both by the superhero comics he reads, and by his own life. In the later stories, how the author blends together memory and reality, past and present, is awe inspiring. Amazing too, is how closely intertwined all three stories are, in a way that isn't quite evident until the very end. This book captures the lives of the characters, and the moments that make up those lives, more poignantly and effectively than anything else I've ever read. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dani Shuping

    Essex County is a powerful story that will pull at your heartstrings from the moment that you pick it up. Lemire weaves three seemingly distinct stories of families in Essex County, spanning multiple timelines, and then...quietly without the reader even noticing he weaves them together into a story on community and family. Lemire has crafted a timeless tale, one that will still hold meaning long into the future as it touches upon topics that will never grow old. He brings a unique look and persp Essex County is a powerful story that will pull at your heartstrings from the moment that you pick it up. Lemire weaves three seemingly distinct stories of families in Essex County, spanning multiple timelines, and then...quietly without the reader even noticing he weaves them together into a story on community and family. Lemire has crafted a timeless tale, one that will still hold meaning long into the future as it touches upon topics that will never grow old. He brings a unique look and perspective at the world that his characters inhabit and how their stories together form the roots of the community. The characters are well crafted and as you read along you find yourself starting to recognize them in people that you know. And you can't help but feel moved at their stories and wonder what happens to them long after you finish the book. The artwork in these stories is absolutely beautiful. Lemire shows a deft hand at capturing the emotions and expressions of his characters and the world that surrounds them with pen and ink. Each line on the craggy faces of the characters shows their age, experience, wisdom, and regrets at life gone by. And in the landscapes you see the beauty and the harshness of the world that they live in. I highly recommend this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Get X Serious

    So much of being human is finding significance in the insignificant. You and me? We aren't superheroes. I don't know jack shit about being rich or famous or having superhuman abilities. The drama that unfolds in my life is subtle, like the box of photos in the basement, or the words unspoken by two brothers, or the too-long-eye-contact of the man working at the convenience store, or that game where I scored a hat-trick as a kid. There's no earth shattering significance to those moments, no grand a So much of being human is finding significance in the insignificant. You and me? We aren't superheroes. I don't know jack shit about being rich or famous or having superhuman abilities. The drama that unfolds in my life is subtle, like the box of photos in the basement, or the words unspoken by two brothers, or the too-long-eye-contact of the man working at the convenience store, or that game where I scored a hat-trick as a kid. There's no earth shattering significance to those moments, no grand audience to witness me at my most intimate... maybe just the solitary crow. That's why this book is important. It's the little victories we achieve and the little deaths we endure that burn forever in our memory. This book is their tribute.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Hector Ibarraran

    Tears? No, something just got into my eye. Probably just the fragility of the human condition as expressed by gorgeous ink and words. Essex County us one of those comics that takes the medium and pushes it to what it really is meant to be. Each story is beautifully crafted and connected to the rest. Along the way, Jeff Lemire uses time and consciousness warping techniques to tell a story that may break your heart while making it stronger.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chuddchutney Buana

    My favorite comic (or graphic novel, for those who want to feel more educated) that I read last year. Jeff Lemire's made up the lack of superhero, villains, explosions with a tons of melancholy, sorrow, and loneliness. If you managed to get through this book without a single tears, I salute you (for being heartless sun of a beach).

  24. 4 out of 5

    Juan Carlos

    Menuda joya se marcó Lemire en su momento. Tres historias en el condado de Essex, cada una con diferentes protagonistas, con el hockey como telón de fondo. En la primera un chico que sueña con escribir sus propios comics, en la segunda, dos hermanos separados por los remordimientos y la culpa, y en la tercera una enfermera cuidadora de ancianos. Vidas que se cruzarán en la tercera historia, puesto que aunque aparentemente son independientes, todos los personajes tienen un nexo en común. Y vaya pe Menuda joya se marcó Lemire en su momento. Tres historias en el condado de Essex, cada una con diferentes protagonistas, con el hockey como telón de fondo. En la primera un chico que sueña con escribir sus propios comics, en la segunda, dos hermanos separados por los remordimientos y la culpa, y en la tercera una enfermera cuidadora de ancianos. Vidas que se cruzarán en la tercera historia, puesto que aunque aparentemente son independientes, todos los personajes tienen un nexo en común. Y vaya personajazos, una construcción de diez. Alguna lagrimilla se me escapó. El dibujo de Lemire es muy peculiar, muy abocetado, pero es muy agradable de ver. Ovación cerrada para la que sin duda ha sido una de las lecturas del año.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Meran

    Essex County contains 3 books: Tales from the Farm, Ghost Stories, and The Country Nurse; also, two bonus stories: The Essex County Boxing Club and The Sad and Lonely Life of Eddie Elephant Ears. In Book 1, Tales From the Farm, we learn of the story behind young Les, a Canadian boy who always wears his superhero costume. He's obviously out of sync life on the farm -- he doesn't do his chores without being told, he's alienated the only adult there, his uncle, who works the farm dawn to dusk, while Essex County contains 3 books: Tales from the Farm, Ghost Stories, and The Country Nurse; also, two bonus stories: The Essex County Boxing Club and The Sad and Lonely Life of Eddie Elephant Ears. In Book 1, Tales From the Farm, we learn of the story behind young Les, a Canadian boy who always wears his superhero costume. He's obviously out of sync life on the farm -- he doesn't do his chores without being told, he's alienated the only adult there, his uncle, who works the farm dawn to dusk, while the boy goes to school, feeds the chickens, or plays by the creek. Through the story, we come to understand why he's with his uncle, not his parents, watch his uncle's heart break, as well as that of poor Les, and learn of the mystery of Les' missing father. The boy comes to a very adult realization, showing the strength of his inner superhero, after all! - 5 stars In Book 2, Ghost Stories, an old man, hit hard with dementia, recalls his life, full of regrets, concerning his brother, his brother's wife, and their secret child through episodal "moments of clarity". After he's moved from his old farm to a nursing home for better care, he reorders his life, shifting his mundane day over to old memories: a puzzling oatmeal breakfast becomes "his usual": 2 eggs, bacon, hash browns, and side of toast. He reorders everything as his day goes on, to the familiar patterns of his life when he was younger. It's a great device for telling the old guy's story! And quite plausible for what could really be going on in the mind of an older man with senile dementia. Handled with grace and dignity, the old guy relates the details of his very lonely life. - 5 stars... Should be more ;) In Book 3, The Country Nirse, we see again our Guide, the Crow, who has brought us into each of the previous stories. By now, we know that young Les in the first story is related unknowingly to the old man in the second story, and how. They even pass each other one very early snowy morning, when both are supposed to be in their beds. They glance curiously at each other, but don't intrude into the other's "business", being the polite Canadians they are. It's a real shame, because it's the closest they get, grandfather and grandson. It might have changed them both, in good ways. The Nurse sees practically everyone in Essex County, and probably knows well the backgrounds of all her patients. She's chided for her meddling, but honestly, she could "meddle" more. This Nurse is also granddaughter to the oldest woman in Essex County, into whose memories we are now taken. The old woman was a nun at an orphanage in 1917; the Crow is a companion to their caretaker there, Mr Gerrard, also her lover. Mr Gerrard dies in a house fire after saving everyone in the orphanage, which includes Les' 5 times great grandfather, Lawrence, and the nun's unborn child. The Crow guides them all through two days in the wilderness to safety at the Essex County settlement east of their own. The Nurse's meddling will bring them all the LeBeuf men together, though it'll be too late for one of them. -5 stars Bonus works- Essex County Boxing Club - I'm not sure if this is fact or fiction. It reads as history. It's a good story about men in the area and involves a ghost! The Sad and Lonely Life of Eddie Elephant Ears- odd. Would have worked as a longer piece. Apparently, it was originally going to be part of the genealogy. I wish it could have been worked into it. The author explains why it wasn't. A very satisfying read! The art is Jeff Lemire's strange simplistic style, but as usual, it works so very well. I've read a bit of his work, and have to admit to being a BIG fan of his storytelling. He can approach any touchy feely subject with dignity and love and clarity. Many men have problems displaying their feelings, as I think this very book clearly illustrates. He's young. I hope he has a very long, prosperous life doing what he does do well: THIS.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Sad stories, but not depressing. I'll admit, all of the hockey in the second volume slowed me down a bit.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nurshafiqa

    honestly, i RARELY read comics or graphic novels. if sara quin did not recommend and stand by this graphic novel on canada reads 2011, i wouldn't even know it existed. heck, if i saw it randomly lying somewhere, i wouldn't even give it a second glance. essex county surpasses my expectations. i knew it would be good, since it got voted into canada reads, but i was like meh. and then my sister, who very rarely reads, said it was real good. and my curiousity got the better of me.. so i gave it a tr honestly, i RARELY read comics or graphic novels. if sara quin did not recommend and stand by this graphic novel on canada reads 2011, i wouldn't even know it existed. heck, if i saw it randomly lying somewhere, i wouldn't even give it a second glance. essex county surpasses my expectations. i knew it would be good, since it got voted into canada reads, but i was like meh. and then my sister, who very rarely reads, said it was real good. and my curiousity got the better of me.. so i gave it a try. and boy, am i glad i did! the artwork was meticulous, and top-notch. how long did jeff lemire did this all?! the story, all 5 of them, was amazing and touching in its own right, but then later on i found out it was interconnected and it made me like essex county even more. at the end of the novel, i felt sort of dissapointed. i want more. after finishing reading essex county, i felt that it shouldn't have been voted off so soon (it was the first, in fact) from canada reads. i am not being biased just because i adore sara quin. i really feel essex county was a good graphic novel, and it WOULD change your life in some small way. i know mine did. now i realized when we can be TRULY alone and that we are all connected with one another. but no matter how much i love essex county, it just wasn't the same as reading a BOOK. true, essex county as a graphic novel was very immersing, but i just could not feel the sense of total immersiveness when i was reading a good book. a book lets your imagination runs wild, a graphic novel don't really do that. 4 stars. i would totally recommend this book to all graphic novel lovers and book readers and people-who-don't-read (read also: everyone). hey, who knows, essex county may set off your love for reading! PS: wooh i finished the whole thing in an hour or so! fast read or what.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chelsey

    If you had asked me a few months ago if I thought a graphic novel could break my heart, I would have said no. That was until I brought home my boss' copy of Essex County, by Canadian artist and writer, Jeff Lemire. A contender for last years Canada Reads, Essex County is a collection of three stories, all told in graphic novel format. Though each story is separate, they tie together some of the same characters at different points in their lives. The first story, Tales from the Farm introduces us If you had asked me a few months ago if I thought a graphic novel could break my heart, I would have said no. That was until I brought home my boss' copy of Essex County, by Canadian artist and writer, Jeff Lemire. A contender for last years Canada Reads, Essex County is a collection of three stories, all told in graphic novel format. Though each story is separate, they tie together some of the same characters at different points in their lives. The first story, Tales from the Farm introduces us to a young boy, who has lost his mother and never knew his father. Living with his uncle, who knows nothing about how to raise a child, the boy escapes into his imagination, where he is a superhero, as means of finding solace. The second story, entitled Ghost Stories, tells the heartbreaking and haunting tale of two brothers, whose relationship is strained by one terrible mistake. And finally, the third story, The Country Nurse, illustrates the life of a devoted nurse who places the happiness and comfort of others before her own. All stories take place against the backdrop of the small Canadian farm town. The honesty that radiates from this tender, touching and beautifully drawn book is stunning. After hearing such wonderful praise from my coworkers, I took this home on a cool fall evening. With the intention of reading one story before bed, I propped up my pillow and began. Two hours later, I closed the cover, feeling as though my heart had swelled in my chest. This is a very special book; not just because it is wonderfully written or illustrated with such precision, but also for the exquisite commentary on rural Canadian life. Jeff Lemire’s Essex County is a must-read for all.

  29. 4 out of 5

    C.J. Cummings

    Jeff Lemire is one of my favourite "comic book people". I love his work and found it to be about time I purchased Essex County, man am I glad I did. This is a beautiful story. The complete collection of the three Essex County tales all wrapped up tight in a gorgeous bundle with some extra little promo stuff and unpublished work. The stories are moving, tragic, funny, relatable and brilliant, and I was swept up in the world that Lemire created. This, like titles such as Blankets, The Sculptor and Jeff Lemire is one of my favourite "comic book people". I love his work and found it to be about time I purchased Essex County, man am I glad I did. This is a beautiful story. The complete collection of the three Essex County tales all wrapped up tight in a gorgeous bundle with some extra little promo stuff and unpublished work. The stories are moving, tragic, funny, relatable and brilliant, and I was swept up in the world that Lemire created. This, like titles such as Blankets, The Sculptor and Maus, will be a book I reread many times. Just fantastic. Highly recommended. 5 out of 5

  30. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    Literature at its best. Life revealed and reimagined. Your head, your heart, your everything is at stake when you enter Jeff Lemire's Essex County. Love the way so much of the story is told through the image-only panels. The art and the writing are perfect companions on this journey. This why we create and why we read.

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