Friday, 12 March 2010

Woman’s World

I read this novel a while back but somehow forgot to mention it, so here we go. Woman’s World is like nothing you have ever seen. It is a stunning novel both visually and intellectually. For lack of a better word, it is a true work of art that combines a surreal story with an exceptionally original layout.

Norma Fontaine is the lead character in this subtle yet subversive story of what it’s like to be a woman in 1960s England. She is a real lady who spends her days reading magazines and is on a perpetual quest for the perfect outfit. Her life is glamorous, or she’d like to think so at least. Besides occupying herself with fashion and beauty, she’s also waiting for her brother to finally come home and bring her tales of the outside world seeing as she rarely goes out because when she does, things never go according to plan…

Woman’s World
is entirely comprised of words and phrases that have been cut and pasted together. To be more accurate, it is a collage from individual fragments of text that were found in women’s magazines published in the early 1960s to create an element of historical accuracy in terms of languages and more importantly, beauty products. Rawle wrote his story the conventional way and then went in search for the perfect words. Aided by scissors and glue, he was able to create a mesmerizing tale out of several thousand snippets. Five years later, Woman’s World was born.

The plot is funny, dark and intriguing with several twists and turns making it a ravishing read but it also adds a healthy dose of social critique and questions gender roles in a highly unusual yet effective way. The cut-up method of construction does take some time to get used to but in the end it only enhances the overall vintage experience of this visually stunning piece of literature. A gimmick is often used to conceal bad writing but nothing could be further from the truth. In this case it adds a hauntingly authentic voice to the mix and captures the 1960s atmosphere like no other author ever has. Rawle’s crazy endeavor became a graphic novel, in the literal sense of the word, that combines art and literature, psychology and sociology, humor and mystery into a remarkable retro read that is also being made into a feature film.

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