Harvey Pekar is probably most well known for his work on American Splendor, a movie of which was made starring Paul Giamatti. But this tender story, which tells the painful and touching tale of his discovery that he has lymphoma and must begin chemotherapy. The news comes as Pekar and his wife, Brabner, are preparing to buy a house. As always with Pekar’s work, Our Cancer Year is most remarkable for its utter normalcy. Pekar is an everyman through and through. As such, when he battles his disease, he does it in a comically human way. The title of this work is apt, too, because Pekar and his wife experience everything together in this fight against cancer. Pekar’s strengths as a storyteller shine in this volume as his cancer battle is contrasted with the first Gulf War, going on at the same time. War too is an all-too-human affliction, but Pekar is able to find the glorious in even the most mundane traits of mankind. That’s always been his gift, and it’s on full display here.
Reviewed by John Hogan on July 12, 2012
Our Cancer Year