Covered: Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt, How to Be Happy by Eleanor Davis
So I can’t remember how I found Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt. I know it was listed on the Comics Journal’s neverending “best of 2016” list, but I started reading it before I ever read that. I only read that blog post in August, and I got Hot Dog Taste Test out of the library back in April. I only read the first 20 pages, then returned it, with more pressing items on my must-read list at the time. Then, I saw it on the TCJ best of 2016 list and remembered that I had wanted to read it, and requested it from the library again. This time, with a little focus I finished it. But I still don’t know how I found it.
So I started reading Hot Dog Taste Test and, while I was doing that, I was also picking through comics at the local library like I always do, getting new books, returning them before I have a chance to read them, etc. etc. And I could do about 25 pages of Hot Dog Taste Test before I needed something else. Not just a break, but another flavor, texture, whatever. How to Be Happy was on my desk because I’d borrowed it that day so I did 20 pages of that after the 20 pages of Hanawalt.
How to Be Happy quickly took over. I read it in 2 or 3 sittings, re-reading most of the stories. I rambled through Davis’s tumbler. I read the TCJ interview and listened to her on the Inkspots podcast. That book had such a grip on my emotions and imagination that for about 4 days, she was the most important person in the entire world outside of my family.
All of this makes the Hanawalt book sound like I didn’t like it, which isn’t true at all. It reminds me of the kind of deep-seated urban cynicism that I loved reading about in the Believer a 15 years ago, the whole project glazed with irreverent precociousness. It’s an emotional plane that I used to inhabit a lot, which makes it harder to spend long periods of time there now. But this is more about me than it is about Hot Dog Taste Test, I realize. And so off to bed.