Home-help Cartoons

What to read while on vacation? With all the action this summer, with friends and family visiting, I haven´t had the peace and quiet and long stretches of time (did anyone mention the Olympics?) to really dig into something serious. Cartoons are the perfect thing, really.

This is cartoons for grown-ups, eight short stories by Pelle Forshed, in a collection entitled "De anhöriga" (= the relatives). The stories are inspired by Forshed´s work in the home-help service, caring for the elderly and dying. The stories are told from different perspectives, but hook into each other, "Short Cuts"-style.

Forshed´s drawings remind me of Tintin in the early days, but of course the stories are much bleaker. He has great affection for his protagonists, but does not hesitate to expose them, and all their faults. While I really felt for them, I could also see the bullshit that we tend to use to cushion ourselves from the harsness of suffering and decline in those that we have depended on all our lives. He says some profound things about parents and grown children.

I think it´s also a book that should be read by everyone who has a parent or relative that needs home care, since it really exposes the day-to-day reality of those who care for our elders. Sometimes I think we just want our aging parents to be as self-sufficient as they always were, and when they are not, we´d rather have others fill in the gaps, so that we ourselves can remain in the child-position, free of responsibility.

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