31. Bonus book: Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley
I feel like I might be the ideal audience for Lucy Knisley’s autobiographical comic Kid Gloves: someone who doesn’t want children of her own, but is occasionally fascinated by pregnancy and babies. If you as a reader were going through your own fertility or pregnancy issues, I could see this story being too emotional to engage with, but I get to view it from a step back. But no matter who you are, Kid Gloves is a lovely piece of work and a great story.
I have not read any of Knisley’s other comics, which trace different stories and aspects of her life, but you quickly feel familiar with her as a person, with how honest and unvarnished she portrays both her and her husband. Kid Gloves stretches from their decision to have a child, to multiple miscarriages, to Knisley’s difficult pregnancy that culminated in more than one medical crisis in the birth of her son. (Thankfully both she and her baby are well now, which is made clear in the beginning of the book.) All of the ugliness of grief, trauma, and the US medical system are woven through the beauty of supportive communities, the love of her husband and family, and the miracle of making a child on her own. This is a book that understands and respects why people choose not to have children, while still showing the full perspective of those who do.
In addition to Knisley’s story, she also includes research and history into obstetrics, as well as some of her own analysis of what it means to be an autobiographical artist. She is aware that the world at large will have its first impression of her son through this book, and that he might resent it later in life, but she takes care to make this about her experience, as well as how loved he was even before he was born. (In a nice touch, he is never referenced by name in the work, only as “Pal”.) I will be intrigued to see if she writes much about his childhood in her comics; in the social media of today, you see so many children who are turned into presentations before they get a chance to figure themselves out on their own terms, and Knisley seems very aware of that risk and reality.
Knisley does all of her own art as well as writing, and the figures are evocative and empathic, with just enough detail to get across the details of a scene and the emotions involved. Given this foray into her work, I’m intrigued to read some of her other pieces. Her culinary comic Relish: My Life in the Kitchen is one that has been recommended to me before, so this might be my cue to go read it. If you enjoy her other work, have an interest in pregnancy as a topic, or just want a very human story, this is definitely a comic for you.
Would I Recommend It: Yes.
[…] Voices from Solitary Confinement edited by Jean Casella, James Ridgeway and Sarah Shourd, and Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley. Non-fiction has been somehow taking over my best-of slots for the past two years, […]