Book Review

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

Enid and Rebecca's story is the tale of the waning months of their adolescence. Womanhood is just around the corner and the two best friends swear a lot (and brilliantly: get swearing right in dialogue is really difficult and Clowes' ear is excellent here), talk about boys, their first sexual experiences, what they hate about (many) other people and try not to think too hard about what life holds in store for them. They have developed and very personal and refined code that means that most everyone else who isn't either Enid or Rebecca is dorky, or stupid, or a Satanist, or a pervert, or an idiot. Somehow, as characters, that only ever seems to make them more real and more endearing.

The dialogue is cracking throughout Ghost World (and well realised in the film which, however, veers away from Clowes plot here somewhat) -- funny, ironic, authentic. And there is an authenticity about their friendship, borne out of their rounded characterisations, and predicated on the creeping sense that, whilst the two girls have been best friends, like, for ever, the sisterly -- indeed, almost married -- closeness they now feel is inevitably going to end. This is brilliantly invoked in a scene (also, not in the film) where Rebecca says to Enid, "You tell me every stupid detail of your life but you don't even mention that you're studying for this test [to get into college.]" They both know that they can't remain such extreme intimates -- especially not with Enid's possible (probable) departure -- and the all-too-likely appearance of more permanent boyfriends coming between them.

Whilst there are frames taken directly from the comic and storyboarded into Terry Zwigoff's excllent film Ghost World, the comic has both an often quite different plotline (and many more subtleties) and a more languorous and ironic tone than its celluloid realisation. Its also a lot sadder: the dusk of the girl's teenage years is beautifully rendered by Clowes and Ghost World is a highly affecting piece.

-- Reviewed by Mark Thwaite on 30/08/2004

Further Information
ISBN-10: 0224060880
ISBN-13: 9780224060882
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Publication Date: 20/07/2000
Binding: Paperback
Number of pages: 80

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