MariNaomi's Dragon's Breath and Other True Stories

MariNaomi's Dragon's Breath and Other True Stories (2D Cloud + Uncivilized Books, 2014) collects a number of short pieces by MariNaomi into a volume of startling insights into human interactions and society. (Incidentally, the book's publishers are based in Minneapolis, my city!)

dragon's breath cover

While her earlier memoir, Kiss and Tell, focused on relationship and sexual encounters, Dragon's Breath and Other True Stories is more eclectic, ranging from childhood memories about family (revised in adult hindsight) to transitory though impactful encounters in adulthood. Often, these true stories end in the observation that the author does not know what became of a certain person--sometimes intimates and other times just casual acquaintances or even passersby--but these are people and encounters that have stayed with her and formed the canvas of her perceptions of the world.

You can find some excerpts of the book at Study Group Comics. The first piece in the excerpt, "Mr. Vanoni," is about a high school teacher whose lecture style was uninspiring but who occasionally took a lizard out of his terrarium and rubbed his belly until he fell asleep. This observation then unfolds into noting that another, more charismatic teacher died of AIDS that year and had a section of the yearbook dedicated to him while Mr. Vanoni, who also died unexpectedly that year, received a small portion of a page in comparison. The piece is disarming in its brevity and simplicty, but in the final panel, with a finger petting a lizard and the words, "REST IN PEACE, MR. VANONI," MariNaomi rectifies this imbalance in memorialization of the two teachers, suggesting that even the quiet people of this world deserve some attention, loving, and care.

All in all, MariNaomi demonstrates how much she is an important observer of the world around us by showing us little moments full of both pain and possibility.

See also stephenhongsohn's earlier review of Dragon's Breath.
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