‘Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron’ by Daniel Clowes

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Many of the features I would normally write about in a review don’t apply to this book. This is partly because it’s a graphic novel and also because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

From the very first page you’re plunged into Clowes’s seedy and hypnotic world, which I found completely immersive. As the book’s events unfolded I kept thinking this couldn’t possibly get any weirder’, yet I was wrong every time.

Daniel Clowes is one of my favourite artists, and this book didn’t disappoint. His high contrast drawings do an incredible job of bringing it to life. Since I finished reading it, I’ve found myself looking back over parts of it just to appreciate his gorgeous artwork.

The plot is incoherent, yet there are certain threads running through the book that mean it makes a weird kind of sense. Parts of it (such as the large amount of minor characters with bizarre physical abnormalities, and the surreal dream sequences) could have been taken directly from a David Lynch film. In fact the entire book felt like Lynch turned up to eleven. What makes the book better than Lynch (in my opinion) is the sense of humour. You never get the sense that Clowes takes himself too seriously or is trying to be too meta.

However, despite the humour there is an extremely dark and sinister tone to the whole book, which makes reading it feel like you’re experiencing someone else’s dream (or nightmare). I can see how some people might find this book a bit too much, but if you know you like darker stuff I think you’ll love it.

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