Book Review: In by Will McPhail
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Book Review: In by Will McPhail

29 views • Oct 02nd, 2020

In. is a graphic novel by New Yorker cartoonist, Will McPhail. The artwork stands out primarily as the author has successfully incorporated the millennial generation’s woe in connecting with people deeply, and also describing the protagonist’s experiences of communication blending in the magic realism. 

Nick is a young illustrator (one can take it as a semi-biographical story) who fancies visiting coffeeshops and bars because they seem cool. And I loved how each coffee shop and bar is described in a genius manner. For example – a coffee shop named Selvglad which has a Nordic ambience is described as follows –

Selvglad (The Nordic Concept of Smugness). Not so much a coffee shop as it is a vision of what your life would be if you were happy. Their speciality tea is made of pine needles that have been through the digestive system of a vole that has been through the digestive system of an owl that has been through the digestive system of a beautiful Danish widow. And…

You now get the witty part in these lines. The illustrations are mostly portraited in black and grey, but there are bursts of vivid scenes with gorgeous colours when Nick connects to a person while conversing. He is astounded by the dream (or nightmare) like scenarios that he gets drifted into when he makes a connection with the person on a deeper level. He wants to communicate, however, he hesitates thinking talking might probably be a waste of time for others. He wants to talk to his sister, mother and a girl that he likes. But it is only when he actively takes part in communicating his thoughts rather than just observing as an artist is what makes the story complex yet beautiful at the same time.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this graphic novel. It is minimal in art yet has an impact on creating wonderful scenes that makes you reflect on how we bond with people in such a distraction-filled environment. The story is of Nick – it is simple. But the inner monologues of the illustrator warmly touches you even after you are finished reading.

Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for tho e ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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