This fourth installment in Michel Rabagliati’s semiautobiographical series finds Paul settling comfortably into adult life, occasional twinges of anxiety aside. His graphic design business has taken off; his partner, Lucie, is pregnant; it’s mid-July and time to leave behind the city to go fishing. Long lazy days stretch out while Paul’s thoughts wander from the colorful characters at the fish-and-game camp to the lurking depths of childhood, a Holden Caulfield–esque adolescence, and the encounters that have shaped his sense of family thus far. But the golden glow soon lifts off his vacation with the realization that the lake isn’t as idyllic as it would seem, and neither is pregnancy. Elegant composition and spare, condensed drawing crystallize emotion and atmosphere in this wistful and engaging account of everyday hopes and hardships, told with a keen and playful sense of iconic detail. Even the mundane holds beauty and meaning in this compassionate story of expectation, disappointment, and wonder.
“Free of self-loathing . . . [Rabagliati’s] black-and-white panels eschew half-tones for a spirited line.”—Voice Literary Supplement“A native Quebecois artist, Rabagliati has chronicled a thinly veiled version of his artistic and interior life in his previous three books, and the present volume finds his stand-in, Paul, entering into adult responsibilities with his fiancé, Lucie, and thoughts of a child on the way. On a long summer break, Paul remembers his childhood vacations and his own upbringing and early love affair with Lucie. Meanwhile, Lucie has a very difficult time sustaining pregnancies. All of this is told in a matter-of-fact, somewhat flat manner. Rabagliati is an everyman chronicler in that way—telling the facts of a story with no artificial drama or hysterics. Unfortunately, this makes for a somewhat dull read. This slightly boring telling is redeemed by Rabagliati's wonderful skill with a pen. His cartooning is steeped in the clean-line style of Hergé and other Europeans, and he cleverly delineates characters and their environs in this simple, elegant and reductive style. It's a pleasure to look at, even with somewhat limited returns. Paul Goes Fishing is a fine graphic novel—not great, not bad, but firmly in the middle, with a sharp sense of craft and a warm heart guiding it.”—Publishers Weekly“Paul is a graphic designer who lives in Quebec. He and his pregnant wife Lucie are going on vacation; they have rented a cabin in the woods with his sister-in-law's family. Paul isn't the outdoorsy type. He likes the bunnies that run free on the grounds, and that's about it. He hates fishing because he and his father almost drowned in a disastrous fishing trip when he was a lad, and is horrified at modern hunting tactics—feed the animals for months so you know where they will be when you want to shoot them. Despite all this, Paul has a good time. He plays Bingo and visits a museum dedicated to the feats of Louis Cyr, the strongest man in Canada. The vacation is cut short when Lucie takes ill. Paul Goes Fishing is part of a semi-autobiographical series. The folksy narrative is all about family—Paul and Lucie's attempts to have a baby are an important plot point, but most of the story takes place in the cabin in the woods with Paul's in-laws. The black and white art reminds me of Tintin. Paul Goes Fishing contains vulgarity (s-bomb); non-sexual nudity; and disturbing imagery—there are two abortions (all that's shown is blood dripping into a bottle, but it's still horrible), which the author foreshadows by the presence of vacuum cleaners at the graphic novel's beginning.”—KLIATT
Michel Rabagliati is the cartoonist behind Paul in the Country (2000), Paul Has a Summer Job (2003), and Paul Moves Out (2005), which garnered Canada’s Doug Wright Award for Best Book of the Year.