A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting

Guy Delisle, 191pgs, Drawn & Quarterly, drawnandquarterly.com, $12.95

This book is a delight; a collection of “hopefully, they won’t hold this against me later” moments from the lives of Guy Delisle’s young children.

The self-deprecating tone suggested by the title carries on throughout, as the Quebec cartoonist depicts himself alternating between immature practical jokes (there’s one involving a chainsaw which I guess backfired on him, judging by how the story trailed off), or petty point-scoring with his kids (when his son accuses him of relying on the internet for all his knowledge.)

There’s a sweetness to this confessional style, though. While Deslisle appears to be falling occasionally into a grumpy dad stereotype or forgetting that his kids are kids, his love for them still shines through.

With very simple, grey-scale cartooning, he suggests something of their stubbornness in their solid posture, their slightly bean-shaped heads (there  is  something kind of bean-like about very small children) and the eyes that see right through him.

Although one or two of Deslisle’s gags seem to stretch out and take a little too long to hit their target, this is all part of his honesty. He sacrifices something of himself. This is art that gives, as good art should.This book is a gem, pleasant reading for anyone familiar with the thousand little shortcuts one guiltily takes on the road to raising a child.  (Binnie McMahon)

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