120 Days of Simon by Simon Gärdenfors

120 Days of Simon
by Simon Gärdenfors
Top Shelf, 2010

Yes… I can see why this chunky little paperback caused trouble when it was first published in 2008. Rapper Gärdenfors sets himself a challenge to travel around Sweden for four months, couchsurfing with his bizarre fans and spending no longer than two nights in the same place. You’d think this would make a nice little travelogue, like a low-budget Michael Palin adventure. Except Gärdenfors is no Michael Palin, and what follows is 120 days of snorting drugs and unprotected sex* with teenagers, all drawn in a pleasantly round 8-bit video-game style.

Halfway through his adventure he’s been mugged (with stitches in his drawing hand, every artist’s nightmare), the potential love of his life is with someone else, his apartment sublease has fallen through and the scary brother of one of his conquests and a motorcycle gang has threatened to kill him. It’s a bit like Scott Pilgrim, except frankly Simon comes over as a bit of a cnut and a user, and it’s hard to be glad for him when he discovers he’s been awarded US$40,000 by the Swedish Arts Grant Committee to publish this book.

*This must be some Julian Assange thing. Why do men having sex in Sweden have such huge issues with condoms?

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