Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Pure Genius

I just finished reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. One word comes to mind -- brilliant. OK, maybe another one comes to mind -- WOW -- although "brilliant" sounds a lot more intelligent, and a lot less cave-womanish. This is unlike any other book I have ever read. It's part novel, part graphic novel, part picture book, and it works. It's almost like a movie trapped inside the pages of a book. Selznick himself describes it as "a 550 page novel in words and pictures. But unlike most novels, the images...don't just illustrate the story; they help tell it."
The story chronicles the adventures of 12-year-old orphan, Hugo Cabret, who lives in the walls of a Paris train station around the turn of the century. His uncle, who was his only guardian, has mysteriously disappeared, and now it's up to Hugo to tend to the station's clocks while trying to survive by stealing from the local merchants. Hugo is obsessed with an automaton (a mechanical, human-like robot) that his father tried, and failed, to repair before he died. After a run-in with a cranky old toymaker (who just happens to have a secret identity), the plot twists and turns until it is masterfully resolved through Selznick's beautiful words and pictures.
I'd give my right eye (it's the lazy one anyway) for talent like this! This guy is amazing. Some of the illustrations are sequential and act almost like a flip book. It's so cool. You just have to see it to believe it. Wow.

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