Years of the Elephant by Willy Linthout

Years of the Elephant
by Willy Linthout
Fanfare/Ponent Mon, 2009

The melancholy story of Charles Germonprez, a portly Belgian office worker whose son Jack unexpectedly jumps off the roof of their apartment building one day. Charles attempts to carry on as normal, but the chalk outline of his son haunts him, and he realises his grief is driving him crazy. He turns to medication and therapy as his marriage falls apart, but has to plumb some very unpleasant depths before he can find any peace.

Very sadly this book is autobiographical, and was produced by Linthout (previously best known for his popular series of comic books starring the Belgian comedian Urbanus) as therapy after the suicide of his own son in 2004. The entire book is in rough pencils, which gives it a fragile, smudged appearance in keeping with the naked grief on display.

It’s not a pretty read, but apparently it’s now used as a text in grief therapy.

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