Being laid off and, soon after, told his father had six months to live, could have brought Aneurin Wright down. It didn’t, and his graphic memoir, Things to do in a Retirement Home Trailer Park When You’re 29 and Unemployed, is a work of unflinching reality and subtle beauty.
Wright cited the Sistine Chapel and William Hogarth as exemplary works of graphic fiction, adding that since the Pulitzer success of Maus, the world has been waiting on graphic fiction’s next acclaimed work. He didn’t say Things to do… was it; he wouldn’t.
Wright’s reading was a cool blend of power-point, narration, and voices. It moved from a zen-like contemplation of pill-counting to the allegory of emphysema ‘clearing customs’. He regaled the audience with the day the book began. His father, Neil, was a successful architect, so Wright would sit at the drawing table in the trailer and ‘write.’
The graphic novel Wright has created is beautifully illustrated and poetic in its phrasing. The ellipses are perfectly balanced with what he calls the ‘golden moments,’ the beats telling the story. With such a deft touch and the ability to soak so many complex emotions into each page, Aneurin Wright’s Things to do in a Retirement Home Trailer Park… deserves a place next to the richest memoirs as well as the most vibrant fantasies.