Finished reading book number 12 for the year – A poignant graphic novel called ‘Underwater Welder’ by Jeff Lemire. Lemire has both written and illustrated this haunting book that deals with loss and a man’s reluctance to part with his deceased father’s memories.
Like the title suggests, the protagonist Jack is an underwater welder, who lives in a sleepy port town with a pregnant wife. Jack was just 10 when his father was lost to the sea when and some parts of him hopelessly continue to look for their childhood hero during their deep dives into the bottom of the sea. Lemire captures the mundane life in the town with his grim inks, which feel very personal and raw, like detailed drafts from a personal graphic diary.
I like how the graphic novel explores the ties between fathers and sons, of how boys tend to hero-worship their dads, oblivious to how flawed their idols are. Lemire shows us in a grim yet dreamlike manner how boys metamorphose into their fathers as they grow older. Will Jack too turn into a drunk selfish man his mother claims his father was? Why did his father not keep his last promise to the ten-year-old Jack, a promise that plagues him even at 33. I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading ‘Underwater Welder’, but it surpasses whatever little images I had in my head.
It’s a 4/5 from me.
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