Synopses & Reviews
WITH BEAUTIFUL FULL-COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS THROUGHOUT
From one of the most original and imaginative American cartoonists at work today comes a collection of graphic narratives on the subjects of urban planning, product design, and architecture — a surrealist handbook for the rebuilding of society in the twenty-first century.
Ben Katchor, a master at twisting mundane commodities into surreal objects of social significance, now takes on the many ways our property influences and reflects cultural values. Here are window-ledge pillows designed expressly for people-watching and a forest of artificial trees for sufferers of hay fever. The Brotherhood of Immaculate Consumption deals with the matter of products that outlive their owners; a school of dance is based upon the choreographic motion of paying with cash; high-visibility construction vests are marketed to lonely people as a method of getting noticed. With cutting wit Katchor reveals a world similar to our own — lives are defined by possessions, consumerism is a kind of spirituality — but also slightly, fabulously askew. Frequently and brilliantly bizarre, and always mesmerizing, Hand-Drying in America ensures that you will never look at a building, a bar of soap, or an ATM the same way.
"In one of the more sublimely caustic stories in Katchor's brilliant, darkly magical new collection, a suburban house attracts the attention of an architecture critic who loves how the roof reforms itself to match the shape of the master bed. He is all set to publish a laudatory article on it when the housekeeper makes the bed, and the critic loses interest. There are more than 150 pieces like that in this oversized edition, most of them taking up just one page. Nearly all involve some surreal tweak on modern obsessions with form, design, status, and particularly architecture and the pretentious folly of its acolytes. Like a grungier Chris Ware, Katchor uses slashing lines and bleak-faced people to populate strictly delineated worlds that hum with surrealism for all their exacting detail: the building so high-tech it allows no wood ('all your possessions must be uploaded as digital files'); the mixed-use complex with one blank wall so off-putting that 'two tourists die of boredom'; a move toward using vitreous china for fast-food packaging and automobile bodies. Katchor's universe might be at a 45-degree angle to reality, but it's close enough for his barbs about the modern world's hatred of the past to keep their humorous sting." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“Ben Katchor’s new book (his first in full color and I think also his best yet), Hand-Drying in America, furthers his reputation as one of the few geniuses of the form, to say nothing of being one of the first exemplars of what literary fiction told in comics form could be.” Chris Ware
About the Author
Ben Katchor is the author of The Cardboard Valise, The Jew of New York; Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District; and several works of musical theater with the composer Mark Mulcahy. He teaches at Parsons The New School for Design and has contributed to The New Yorker, The Forward, and Metropolis. The first cartoonist to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, he is the subject of the documentary The Pleasures of Urban Decay. He lives in New York.