Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Review - Graffiti Moon / Cath Crowley

"Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers."

It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes. Goodreads.

Review - Graffiti Moon is the literary equivalent of dipping your toe into a still pond at midnight.  As you watch the ripples chase their way into nothingness, you can't help but take in the beauty...and wonder what is occurring beneath the surface.  It is the sheer talent of Crowley and her melodic string of words that make a night in the city breathtakingly magical and oh so real.

The reader is whisked into a three perspective journey over one night in Melbourne.  Lucy's a will o the wisp, her focus is as staid as a kaleidoscope but she challenges herself to find the illusive Shadow, the artist who's graffiti art speaks to her.  Ed's life has been barren of hope and the written word but he's discovered ways to express his voice amidst his own self doubt.  Lastly, there's Leo.  Tall and blundering, he carried his words like treasures and nurses a broken heart.  Three characters who share the night and similarly artists souls.

Crowley's achieved something quite magical in this story, the character aren't performing amazing feats but their ability to see the amazing within the normal is extremely powerful.  As is the wonderful use of humour throughout, it pokes its head up, declaring itself, at the most surprising of times.  Dialogue tumbles over its own humour while leaving space for thoughts and intakes of breath.  Each characters perspective is always startlingly clear without shouting its presence like a foghorn.  In creating these voices, in showing their bonds, we implicitly understand the world and their place within it.  Crowley's gift with words transposes the audience with the levity and hush of a magic carpet - you've begun the journey before you've ever taken off.

Graffiti Moon is a love letter to the arts and teachers (in all their forms) that bewitch students with their passion.  It never feels as though Crowley is forcing a theme or idea, more that she's shining a light on the scruffy and oddly endearing creature that lurks in the corner, silent and bashful.  Her world clasps the talented and odd (sometimes both) to its bosom and shares the love.  In some respect the book is an examination of odds and their ends.  Glass and brick.  Young and old. An image and a word.  A truth and its accompanying mistruth.  Ideas, concepts, items that obscure and clarify.  More than anything they sketch a Melbourne, where anything is possible, in vivid images and colourful thoughts.

Graffiti Moon is like experiencing life from within a work of art.  It feels achingly familiar and wonderfully new in one delicious read.  Crowley shows that perspective is everything, art is eternal and unwanted gropes should always be followed by bloodshed.  It is Australian teen journey depicted in a real, humorous and insightful manner. It poses life's big and small questions amidst nipple piercing, pink combie vans and the perfect blue sky paint.  What more can a reader ask for?

Published: August 2010
Format: Paperback, 264 pages
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Source: author
Origin: Australia

Follow this link to see the art works that Crowley integrated throughout the story of Lucy, Ed and Leo.


Anonymous said...

Great Review! This book sounds amazing, I'll have to check it out :)

lanna-lovely said...

I want to read this one so badly, but I can't find it anywhere (I live in the UK, so I'd have to buy it online but it's not on Amazon or anything). :(