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How To Be Alive

How To Be Alive How To Be Alive How To Be Alive How To Be Alive How To Be Alive

How To Be Alive back

Tara Booth


Page 45 Review by Jonathan

One of the most absurdly enjoyable comics I have read in a long time! If you're looking for something to make you snort coffee through your nose - in an outward direction I should probably add just for the sake of total clarity on my review-writing process - this is it!

Completely silent and as slapstick as Harold Lloyd in his pomp, the publisher bills this as...

"A collection of Tara Booth's most recent gouache paintings. Straying from the narrative form of her first publications, How To Be Alive is a series of autobiographical densely patterned, colourful, one and two page vignettes about modern life, swinging emotionally between bitterly painful to insightful to amusing."

Trust me, even the bitterly painful are excruciatingly hilarious, for us at least, never mind "amusing". That is downplaying the comic genius of this material. I'm not entirely sure about "insightful", either unless you count learning the fact that trimming your own fringe and getting a bit carried away and doing the sides of your head as well leaves you looking like a cross between the bearded lady and a werewolf as a valuable life lesson...

I think there are two points which make this psychedelically coloured romp tickle the ribs to cracking point time after time. Firstly, it's that Tara has chosen to eschew panels and borders completely (which given the riot of crazily painted colour certainly minded me greatly of Brecht THE WRONG PLACE Evens) instead frequently employing the conceit of painting anywhere between three and eighteen versions of herself engaged in some ludicrous activity such as squeezing spots, working out or indeed even going to the toilet.

Often the Taras are so tightly tucked in next to each other that it gives the effect of an unceasingly twirling zoetrope threatening to fly off its axis completely. Chaos in motion! The other clincher is the facial expressions, the final one often being the punchline that underscores the absolute joyful lunacy of it all. Such as when after downing a large glass of red wine, Tara turns to camera and gives us a beaming smile, complete with temporarily tannin-stained teeth. We've all been there!!
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