Graphic Novel Review: Commute: An Illustrated Memoir of Female Shame by Erin Williams

Commute: An Illustrated Memoir of Female Shame by Erin Williams. Abrams Comicarts, 2019. 9781419736742. 295pp.

Erin Williams wakes up, puts on her makeup, walks her dog, and takes the train to work. Some of the people she encounters are pleasant. One guy, a pain in the ass, takes the last window seat just to take it away from everyone else. Another reminds her of someone she took home when she had her period. A man in a blue suit keeps looking at her, making her feel both threatened and lonely. This makes her think about someone she met at her grandfather’s funeral, and when she finally saw him as a predator, she realized how desperately she wanted to be seen (and how he didn’t see her at all).

This is a compelling string of consciousness look at not just Williams’ commute, but her relationships and her daily fight for control of her body, both in public and private. It’s darkness, the discussions of rape and alcoholism, is balanced by her humor, honesty, and the spare, poetic way she leads the reader through her thoughts and experiences. It’s a hard book to describe or booktalk, but it’s worth picking up.


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