Book Talk: Graphic Novel Edition

Mary and Bryan Talbot
Category: Reading

Hot off the presses comes our newest episode of Book Talk, Scottish Book Trust’s book reviews podcast, and this month the critics have been given the task of dissecting graphic novel/biography Dotter of Her Father's Eyes by Mary and Bryan Talbot.

Our host, Paul Gallagher, along with guests, Keir Hind and Damon Herd, gets to grips with the graphic novel form in the podcast, but we have a sneak peek for you below.

Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes follows two life stories: that of Mary, the daughter of a pre-eminent scholar of James Joyce, and of Joyce's own daughter, Lucia. The intertwining stories combined with the interplay between writer Mary Talbot and her husband Bryan, the book’s artist, makes for compelling reading.

Through the novel, Bryan draws out the memories of his wife’s childhood, which are then corrected for us to see by Mary – could this have been intentional? Keir thinks so:

'I think some of the things, they’ve chosen not to correct. It’s probable that Bryan Talbot drew it that way in the knowledge that he was getting it wrong. But sometimes you get things wrong... ‘fiction is the lie that tells the truth’ is the quote. You make things a certain way to get at a more important truth than the fact that boys and girls didn’t sit together at the time.'

Damon also liked the way the different sections were visually presented in different styles:

'One of the things I noticed in the early Mary stories is that you can still see the pencil lines underneath it, like for when [Bryan] was making up the page, building it up. Then in the other stories, especially the present day, all form of what was there before is completely gone.

'I think this is a really good way of showing how memory works, the confusion of memory and the way things are constructed in your head -- it's like layer upon layer of things.'

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