Sunday, September 27, 2009

Craig Thompson’s Childhood

“You look like you’re staring up at the stars,” says high-school-aged Craig to Raina, as the two lie in bed, not completely naked.

“I am,” she replies.

“Can you see through the ceiling?”

“I can.”

And with that, the sky of their bedroom fills with star-bright snowflakes. Soon, they slumber together in a gentle paisley and flute-filled background.

Craig Thompson infuses much of Blankets with this dreamy quality, not only in the telling of his first love, but in the difficult always-winter childhood recollections, too.

His story also involves chilly Christian fundamentalist parents who punish Craig and his brother for the slightest infractions by forcing one or the other of them to spend the night in the attic crawl space. As Craig gets older, he meets Raina, who has challenges of her own as her family struggles with her parents’ divorce.

Oh, and there’s the guilt. No matter what he does, Craig seems to conclude he’s broken some Biblical will of God. There are certainly enough people in his life to convince him of that — teachers, classmates, ministers. (There’s a lot of Bible talk in Blankets, even if at the end of the tale the protagonist, in recalling his childhood, is more ambivalent about his own beliefs.)

Throughout the book, Craig tries to use his drawing to find his own way. Blankets may be his salvation.

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