Everyone seems to love Ghost World, and I just don’t get it. I saw the movie and hated it, and I thought maybe I would like the graphic novel better, but I didn’t.
Enid and Becky are about to graduate college. The two girls, especially Enid, spend most of their time criticizing the world around them, playing pranks on people, and speculating about the lives of the people they see.
I suppose the two girls are supposed to represent disillusioned youth, but, to me, they epitomized the folly of youth. When you’re young and haven’t made all that many major mistakes, you can afford to criticize and scoff at old people with pathetic lives that didn’t live up to anyone’s dreams or expectations. I guess you could say that Enid is an antihero, but I couldn’t connect with her in any way. Her pretention and arrogance made it impossible for me to like her in the least.
I would call this graphic novel “proto-hipster,” and I don’t mean that in a good way (although I suppose hipsters would think that made it cooler). Basically, it glorified a pretentious, ungrateful, critical, self-righteous, elitist generation before it was cool to do so.
It reminded me a little of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, a book that takes an unflinching look at the folly and pretention of youth. But, for me, the difference was that, as much as the young Dave Eggers of the novel annoyed the crap out of me, I could still stand back and admire the sheer beauty of his writing. The cat can write; there’s no doubt about that. While I disliked the young Eggers of the novel, I could appreciate Eggers’ brutal honesty and his ability to give his readers an accurate snapshot of the person he was in his early twenties.
Clowes, on the other hand, presents us with a caricature patched together out of snark and snobbery.
I wasn’t a huge fan of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, but I appreciate it a lot more now that I’ve read Ghost World.