I’ve become more attuned to reading graphic novels lately; they’re easy to read, lovely to look at and are filled with far more mature content than the comic book notion I’d presumed them to have. For my first Neil Gaiman read, I chose How to Talk to Girls at Parties in graphic novel form because too many words on a single page gets to be a bit nerve-wrecking after a while. LOL. Blasphemy, I know! I just needed something relaxing and interesting, and because I’d already heard so many raving things about Gaiman and his reputation for writing very off the wall stories made me all the more compelled to pick this one up.
Before I begin, I think it’s just as important to note that the brilliance of How to Talk to Girls at Parties is not a solo act. Gaiman’s widely-acclaimed tale could not have been reimagined into such an alluring medium without the help of adaptation, art and lettering comic superstars Fábio MoonGabriel Bá, who are responsible for the staggering adaptation.
While I’ve yet to read Gaiman’s original tale of the same name, or any of his work at all (I know, I’m sorry!), this was an AHMAZING introduction to the author’s mystic mind. I wasn’t quite sure of the journey I’d embark on from the first few pages of the story; the concept seemed pretty silly at first: two teenage boys (Vic, the confident one; Enn, the socially misplaced) darting off to an unknown party at an unknown location. I was in no way expecting the turn of events that happened midway into the story.
What’s most exhilarating about this story is that Gaiman is very patient and uncomplaining about how he introduces Enn, the boy seeking counsel from his friend on how to approach girls. Enn becomes somewhat the forefront of this momentary coming-of-age tale, however I feel Vic maintained just as much a pivotal role in the story, especially by the end. Then again, I guess it depends on who you’re asking. Personally, I think lessons can be learned from both of their experiences.
I’m going into this with the frame of mind that it’s possible I don’t have this story quite figured out. But does anyone ever have a story figured out, really? I don’t know, but here are some thoughts I had after reading the book.
This review may contain spoilers from this point
Having Enn, our narrator, reflect on his encounters with the women at this mysterious party decades later made me feel like this was somewhat of a cautionary tale of sorts. I know, sounds weird, but let me try to make sense of it because it’s still hard for to formulate the notion behind this story as it is. The way I see it, Enn represents what all boys are on the inside: inexperienced, insecure, lacking in confidence. Vic, on the other hand, represents the total opposite; he’s the ladies’ man in this story. Or is he?
It’s ironic that Vic is the one doling out advice on how to talk to girls, assuring Enn that girls are only girls; “they don’t come from another planet.” It’s clear by Vic’s mannerisms that he obviously he has just as little an understanding of girls as his coy friend; he’s just better at hiding it is all. But when Vic meets Stella, he shows no interest in “talking,” which is ironic since he tries to coach Enn on how to talk to girls at, parties. However Vic doesn’t talk to girls, he just sees them; he sees straight through them in a blatantly superficial way. He’s a sweet-talker, not an expert on girls.
Enn, however, is the total opposite. What’s most ironic about their circumstances is the fact that Enn has spoken to several girls at this party, while Vic has spoken to none, in the figurative sense. Enn doesn’t see through these girls, and because of that, these girls see Enn. Sure, these girls just might be from other planets, but the use and importance of language (or communication) in this story is evident. Enn makes connections with these girls even though he doesn’t understand what they’re talking about. What’s even more interesting is how quickly these girls latch on to him despite knowing who he is. Why? Because he is listening to them. The way to talk to girls at parties is to listen to them! Am I striking a chord? Do I sound stupid?!
Not to mention, cutting to that final scene with Vic really sealed it for me. It’s obvious Vic wasn’t there to talk with Stella; he just wanted to get in her pants and she wasn’t having it. That is how NOT to talk to girls. Which is exactly why she went all Jean Grey on his ass toward the end, and Vic shriveled like the little boy he really is.
Maybe I’m reaching with this being the concept of the story, but I think it’s a fair one to consider. Nonetheless, I loved every minute, every page of this book. I do hope to get more into Gaiman’s stories as time goes by, but this was an amazing start.