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Dissing death: Jokes and the Unconscious.

Dissing death

Jokes and the Unconscious * Daphne Gottlieb and Diane DiMassa * Cleis Press * $17.95

Like the uncontrollable funeral giggles that befall the book's protagonist during her fathers burial, Jokes and the Unconscious straddles that all-too-thin line between life's humor and its horrors. Sasha is a 19-year-old college student spending the summer at home while her father struggles with the final stages of terminal lymphoma. While Sasha deals with a summer job as a hospital bureaucrat and with a passionate relationship with a female skateboarder named Jet, her dad's impending death dredges up memories--good and bad--of her childhood with him.

Lest this sound unrelentingly grim, rest assured that Jokes succeeds as both a page-turning read and a hilariously revelatory memoir. Anyone who's ever dealt with an irritating job or with family crises will relate, as author Daphne Gottlieb gets the little details of hospital anecdotes and dying parents just right. It's not uncommon for college students, who are already at a free-floating stage of their lives, to have to deal with a parent dying--this writer did--and Gottlieb perfectly captures that sensation of living in one's own head and attempting to make sense of the world while also trying to deal with loved ones facing loss and pain.

Gottlieb's trenchant prose is beautifully supported by Diane Dilassa's art. The Hot-head Paisan creator's illustrations might not have the polish exhibited by, say, Alison Bechdel or Howard Cruse, but her work has a jagged richness of its own. Jokes and the Unconscious will make readers seek out other works by these talented women while hoping for more collaborations between them in the future.
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Author:Duralde, Alonso
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 24, 2006
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