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The things they carried - 'Carry This Book'

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Abbi Jacobson offering a weird, wonderful, grown-up picture book

Abbi Jacobson is one of the funniest women on television; she's one of the creators and stars of Comedy Central's acclaimed series 'Broad City.'

Now, she's brought her comedic sensibility along with her prowess in the visual arts to the literary world.

Her new book is 'Carry This Book' (Viking, $25). It's a difficult-to-define work call it a comedic coffee table book or a picture book for grown-ups orwell, whatever you like. It's the sort of project that is uniquely its own, bringing together Jacobson's comic edginess and a well-developed sense of whimsy into something unlike anything we've seen before.

Basically, 'Carry This Book' is a look at what people carry. It's a peek inside the bags/purses/wallets/what have you of famous folk both real and fictional. Jacobson basically imagines what these various people might consider important enough to tote around with them, then draws what she sees in her mind's eye as she considers these possibilities; she includes a fair amount of commentary as well, which only serves to enrich things even further.

So yeah this book is basically one person's idea of what other people's stuff looks like. But in a broader sense, it's an opportunity to look at the world through the eyes of Abbi Jacobson and check things out from her skewed perspective.

Ever wonder what Susan B. Anthony or Benjamin Franklin might carry with them in the course of making history? What about Sherlock Holmes or Indiana Jones? Elvis or Beyonce? Prince or Bowie? Homer Simpson is here, so too are Santa Claus and Batman and Mario. Perhaps you're intrigued by considering the contents of Einstein's wallet or Maya Angelou's purse. Banksy is a really good one; so is RuPaul's.

Ever spend time thinking about what sorts of stuff God might carry around? So has Abbi Jacobson.

Look, 'Carry This Book' is absurd. It's weird for the sake of being weird, throwing all kinds of bizarre stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. Honestly, that's what's so great about it. And while you're borne along by the weirdness, there's no disputing the fact that there's a sharpness here as well, a finely honed wit that makes this book just as funny and smart as it is weird and offbeat.

Jacobson's illustrations are on the simplistic side, but no less effective because of that. The representative nature of the drawings allows for a sense of flexibility that accommodates the absurd ideas being represented. There are plenty of broad strokes and easy jokes here, but it's also a book that rewards closer examination. The level of detail is surprising if you just breeze through it, you're going to miss some pretty hilarious stuff.

One could view this project as a metaphor for the baggage that we all carry and the notion that no matter how grand a life might appear, there's alwaysstuff. Some of it may be good, some of it may be bad, but it's always there. That seems to be Jacobson's big takeaway and it's a valuable one.

'Carry This Book' is a weird little book, filled with goofy pictures and silly jokes. It's not some grand literary work and that's OK. If you want to be entertained by the strange musings of a wildly talented, wildly funny woman, you'd be well-advised to start carrying 'Carry This Book.'

Last modified on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 19:25


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