Wednesday, April 4, 2012

More on Blankets

I thought, having written my review, I'd be done thinking about Blankets (at least for a little while), so I could write some of the other reviews I have pending.

But I'm not done because when I sent my review out via Twitter last week, Top Shelf Productions retweeted my review, which led me to their website, which led me to this interview they recently did with Craig Thompson, where Thompson talks about how he fictionalized parts of Blankets (ostensibly a memoir/ autobiography) to streamline the plot and draw out the themes he saw developing.

I love this kind of stuff. One of the things that Thompson edited out was the fact that he has a sister, and I can't help thinking about how much that could have changed the structure of the themes.

First love is the theme that saturates the pages, and Craig and Raina's story forms the largest narrative arc. But their relationship in many ways only serves as a reference point to all the other relationships in the book.

There are 4 heterosexual couples: Craig and Raina, each set of parents, and Raina's older sister and her husband. All three of the other relationships are flawed, either broken or breaking. All of the seemingly healthy relationships revolve around Raina caring for her siblings, but even that (the older sibling setting aside her desires to serve as mother/nurturer) is a form of broken relationship.

One relationship whose depth I'd forgotten since my last reading of Blankets is Craig with his brother. There's an abuse story there that provides a psychological reading for much of Craig's obsession with and fear of the human body, especially his own. But most importantly, I'd forgotten how in spending two weeks with Raina, watching her care for her two siblings with Down syndrome and for her infant niece (the offspring of her sister's breaking marriage), Craig gets ideas for how to be a better brother. And he puts the lessons to work.

It makes me think about my own relationships, with my brother but also with my wife. In many conscious ways (and some unconscious ways, too, I'm sure), I've worked in the last few years to identify behavior I admire in my friends and family, and emulate that in my own relationships. I'd like to think I'm doing a better job of being the person I'd like to be.

It's a subtle storyline, but Thompson weaves it into Blankets so effortlessly that it is almost overshadowed by the love story. But it's just a different kind of love story.

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