No More Shaves

Writer(s): David Greenberger
Artist(s): various
Publisher: Fantagraphics
ISBN: 978-1560972570
Price: $18.95
Page count: 144
Year Released: 2003
Status: in print
Original Source: Duplex Planet Illustrated 1-10
Other Collected Edition(s): n/a
Genres: all ages; anthologies; biography; humor; short stories
Recommended for Fans Of:
Possible Objectionable Material: brief nudity
If You Like This Book, Try:
Also in This Series: n/a

Plot Summary
"We're used to thinking of [the residents of nursing homes] by what they have in common, that they're all old and in varying stages of decline. [With Duplex Planet] I sought to discover the particular and singular qualities of these people." So writes David Greenberger in his introduction to No More Shaves, a collection of illustrated conversations he had with various men living in a nursing home outside Boston, where Greenberger worked as an activities director. By asking questions such as "What is gravity?" or "Why did dinosaurs become extinct?", or simply by talking to the men as they tell stories from their lives, Greenberger elicits a wealth of surprising monologues--some eloquent, some dreamlike, some just plain odd or funny. From these brief stories (as translated into comics by illustrators such as Dan Clowes, J. R. Williams, Dean Rohrer, Pat Moriarity, and Dave Cooper among many others) the reader begins to understand and appreciate these storytellers not as anonymous old men but as complex and interesting individuals, which is exactly Greenberger's intention.

My Own 2 Cents
Most of the stories in this collection are quite touching. It is, of course, the residents of the nursing home who make them so, but nonetheless I would argue that the artists should also take a fair amount of the credit. For example, Pat Moriarity's work on "The Phantom of Crestwood" (in which Greenberger and nursing home resident Bill Niemi are watching The Phantom of the Opera on TV and, hearing that the show is "brought to you by Crest!" Bill asks Greenberger if he ever saw The Phantom of Crestwood) is compassionate, funny, and charming. A few other artists' interpretations don't quite hit the mark and end up feeling too abstract or insensitive to the men telling these stories. But there are far more hits than misses, and I highly recommend this book. I can only hope that when I get old I find someone to lend me an ear as patiently as Greenberger does to his old-timer friends.