Taki Soma’s graphic memoir Sleeping While Standing strings together short, powerful episodes to forge a cohesive, affecting whole.
Soma recounts some challenging personal experiences in brief; they serve as snapshots of her life thus far. She recalls her mother’s decision to move to Minnesota, though it’s not at first clear where they’re moving from; she shares the story of a cat gone missing with only a hint as to where he was hidden. A section on Soma’s career in comics includes a traumatic sexual assault with an abrupt coda: fifteen years later, “The assaulter is finally recognized and he left!!”
Both revealing and guarded, these peeks into a difficult childhood, drug use, a stepfather’s suicide, and a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis are swift. Soma admits to adultery in one panel and then mentions it no further. In illustrating these moments, the artwork proves excellent, incorporating interesting storytelling techniques—like blurring the appearance of a drug user to give a sense of Soma’s mental state, and depicting a mother in shadow to emphasize her emotional distance.
Breezy and serious by turns, the graphic memoir Sleeping While Standing is an intriguing and compact encapsulation of Taki Soma’s formative moments.
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