Nash made notes of his dreams, which are included in the text, and are arranged in a mostly chronological fashion among the events that shaped his life. Even before experiencing the horrors of war, Nash grew up having to cope with his mother's mental illness. And boarding school with its sadistic and liberal application of physical discipline for failure only made matters worse. Of it, he wrote that it:
"...was ideal training for an infantryman's life in the trenches. It taught me nothing worth speaking of, it answered none of my questions, it required only a kind of desperate obedience, and a stoic acceptance of the constant threat of sudden and terrible violence."The book is heavy on observation, interpretation, and introspection. One passage that really resonated with me was this:
Peel away the layersThe artwork is fantastic. Comparing McKean's previous work to Nash's, I can see the influence. In this collection, McKean pays homage to Nash's work, but takes on a darker tone as befitting the subject matter. The sketches range from hyper-real to abstract to surrealistic. Most of the color palette is dominated by earth tones, both dark and bright, to convey scenes ranging from ominous dread to natural tranquility. McKean saves sharp color contrast—most notably his use of red—to draw the eye in to evoke heightened emotional response to danger, violence, and horror.
Strip away the nerves and the synapses and senses
Cut away the skin and these paper-thin defenses
Underneath the son is the father
I'm defined by him
And in opposition to him.
I've tried to make judicious changes
Cut down the anger, add a little patience
I've tried to wash some colour through his pages
Swimming against his genes
His influence in my bloodstream.
Recommended for McKean fans and introspective types.