Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ugly Lies: The Big Kahn

I actually remember how this book arrived on my TBR list -- unshelved comic has a Friday feature of recommending books they've been reading with explanations of why it's a good read.  Their enthusiasm often lures me into seeking out their choices such as The Big Kahn, a graphic novel by Neil Kleid and Nicolas Cinquegrani.

Rabbi Kahn, nee Donnie Dobbs, died as the respected head of a New York Jewish temple, leaving behind a grieving widow, a rabbinical son who expected to inherit the temple, a selfish and rebelling daughter, and a younger son who never quite fit in.  He apparently figured that his love and affection only lasted until death, because in his will he revealed that he was as Jewish as the pope and had kept up the lie ever since he fell in love with his wife while running a criminal scam with his brother.  The family found out the story at the funeral before the will was read, where Kahn/Dobbs' brother showed up and roughly revealed the truth.  This is a great scene that first reveals the brother's depth of faith and the sister's self-centered nature before cracking open the lie of their father's life.

The knowledge tears apart the children; the older son finds his faith in God teetering with his faith in his father, while the temple he grew up in firmly rejects him.  The daughter finds justification for her wild ways but the sight of her brother's pain brings her back towards piousness, and the younger son finds genetic backing for his love of cards and gambling.  The pictures blend well with the text, although again I find my cluelessness with comics a hindrance -- I kept missing flashbacks or confusing the daughter with her roommate.  It's an interesting, adult take on a comic book where the art moves the story along quickly so the book has the strength of a novella, with the complex emotions of a family built on sand.

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