In the opening scene of the film The Princess Bride, a young boy interrupts his grandfather’s storytelling and says, “Is this a kissing book?” Easy to envision a similar scenario unfolding with Harvey, only substitute the word ‘sad’ for ‘kissing’:

Is this a sad book?”

Yes, it is. But the melancholic subject matter doesn’t make it a bad thing. It is, in fact, a human thing. And in the hands of Hervé Bouchard and Janice Nadeau, it’s a deeply moving, occasionally funny, and visually inventive masterpiece. Flat out, Harvey is the most beautiful book I’ve read this year. Maybe longer, I’ll have to check my blog.

Borrowing from the graphic novel tradition, Harvey is nevertheless in a class all its own. Like Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, it is a very particular world that Harvey occupies, but less fantastical. This is a recognizable town (albeit 40 years ago judging by the beehive hairstyles), and a recognizable situation. Harvey is a young French Canadian lad who loses his father one early spring day, and attempts to make sense of the grief swirling around him, using the tools available to an imaginative boy. He is obsessed with the movie The Incredible Shrinking Man, a film which permeates his entire world, overtaking it at one point when invisibility seems the only reasonable response to an altered life.

Harvey is a journal of that day in early spring…

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