- Craig Graziano
Hyperbole and a Half explores artist Allie Brosh's almighty id with a kind of courageousness usually reserved for walking on hot coals or taunting killer bees. Based on the popular blog of the same name, Brosh's book features anecdotes and musings from her life, complemented by pictures drawn with a basic paint program.
Sheer audacity is one of Brosh's best assets. Her stories are bold examinations of what she fears most in life and how these anxieties form her identity.
Childhood Allie is the book's best source for anecdotes. Brosh combs over all sorts of strange adolescent behavior, trying to get at the crux of what motivated her actions. In one instance...it was her grandfather's birthday cake.
My mom knew that it was extremely important to keep the cake away from me because she knew that if I was allowed even a tiny amount of sugar, not only would I become intensely hyperactive, but the entire scope of my existence would funnel down to the singular goal of obtaining and ingesting more sugar. My need for sugar would become so massive, that it would collapse in upon itself and create a vacuum into which even more sugar would be drawn until all the world had been stripped of sweetness.
The intensity of her desire is not simply in her words but also in the maniacal illustrations as well. Brosh draws her first taste of the cake as a Jekyll and Hyde transformation where her pupils dilate and her body vibrates.
Brosh's drawings are only slightly more detailed than stick figures, but the crudeness only adds to their demented charm. She apparently spends a great amount of time fine-tuning her drawings, especially the eyes. Allie's vacant eyes offer a valley of treasures including delusion, terror, stupidity, ecstasy, and obsession, sometimes all at once.
The book is a dual source of comedy and tragedy. Its most insightful section examines how depression affects Brosh's life and why it can be so hard to express how one feels with such an affliction.
It would be like having a bunch of dead fish, but no one around you will acknowledge that the fish are dead. Instead, they offer to help you look for the fish or try to help you figure out why they disappeared.
Make no mistake. This is a very funny book, but its humor is firmly rooted in the darker side of our consciousness. As long as you know what to expect and don't mind a liberal sprinkling of profanity, you'll do just fine.