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By Munawar Mobin

"Sometimes, upon waking, the residual dream can be more appealing that reality, and one is reluctant to give it up. For a while, you feel like a ghost - Not fully materialized, and unable to manipulate your surroundings. Or else, it is the dream that haunts you. You wait with the promise of the next dream.”

Craig Thompson's 'blankets' came to me as a highly recommended piece of work; it was said to be something I would love entirely with all my heart and so, due to my earlier experiences with books or movies which have been oversold to me in a similar fashion, I kept an open mind that leaned towards disappointment. Now, at the end of it, I realise that everything they said was right.

This novel is an autobiography written in the form of a graphic novel and tells the tale of a young boy (the writer, Craig) and how he grows up, living and facing problems concerning love, maturity and above all, faith. This book deals with topics of sex, spirituality and abuse, and is perhaps more suitable for somewhat mature readers.

The basis of the story is Craig's love interest; a girl (Raina) he meets at Christian Camp, who later invites him to stay over and he eventually falls in love. However, that's what the story is on the outside. On the inside is the set of a darker journey of a boy growing up to be a teenager and starting to question the beliefs of his parents and everyone around him and ultimately losing faith. He finds out that everything around you isn't always as 'fixed' in the patterns as he was told it was; he realises that after you grow up, everything changes and along with it, the boundaries and limitations are set to new levels.

This story can easily be distinguished as one which is quite common and at times can be immensely predictable, however, Blankets does not fall into the trap, perhaps because it is a graphic novel. The best part about it is, no doubt, the artwork. Every panel is filled with characters and emotions which always seem to be changing and leaving trails or picking them up from the panels before and after. The art is also done by the author and it just shows that he's managed to weave a story as well as draw it out for the readers in perfect fashion.

The only downside to this story is a subjective one and might not affect every reader out there, but for me, the novel ended too abruptly. Even though it's 600 pages, the story seemed to just stop smack in the middle. It does end well, but it's a little abrupt. It's the feeling you get after reading a short story: You are kept wanting more.

Do read this one if you get the chance!

A lot of stories based around a similar theme this week. This one stood out because of the difference in interpretation. Next week we have the topic: Off the Wall. All submissions need to be sent in to ds.risingstars@gmail.com by Sunday noon. Word limit: 350-500 words. Good luck......................................................................................................................................................

Little Me

By Amrin Ali

Little Me gathers dust, perched on the rickety mahogany table top. As the clouds sing the song of the ominous - urging me to plunge head first into the universe of nullity, Little Me smirks at me. The colour in its eyes is turning a vivid grey, the grey of not having what it expected; the grey of eternal sorrow. I proceed further into the world of stark reality. My black hand-me-down overcoat reeks of last night's spilled wine. Ignoring the stench, I set off. The puddle of rain on the jagged pavement reflects my crooked demeanour. Is it some dementia spiralling its way up my neurones, raiding my synapses? Little Me was right. I'm having a case of the crazies.

The squelching of my boots snaps me back from my soliloquy. I feel the sturdy metallic surface of the 'thing' pressing hard on my ribcage. How long is it going to be before I take it out? How long till my naivety cleaves into pieces. My destiny rests on the man who is most certainly not prepared to confront me, but eager to slump at my feet and beg for mercy when he does. At this point, Little Me's livid white iris tells me that there is no turning back. Little Me mouths, 'I hate you.'

Peculiar thing, Little Me. I've only seen it smile once in my three decades of being. I reminisce of its smile as I wade through the storm pool below the man's basement. There I was, clad in my graduation robe, my mother clutching the side of my arm; too exhilarated to let go. The autumn sun was glazing my ivory skin, while a zephyr ruffled my already unkempt hair. Little Me looked down at me through the window and smiled. Its eyes now bore a brilliant hue of blue; the blue of acceptance and approval.

A yawn brings me back. I discover myself staring at the man's balding head through a wooden doorway. He swivels on the spot to find me staring at him, brandishing the 'thing'. His face screams every colour of fright. He slumps at my feet, begging mercy for his beating heart. I'm nothing but a hired gun. Little Me can shout whatever it likes. Its remonstrations are not going to stop me from putting a bullet hole into this crying man's forehead. So I surge forward. The grey-haired man lies spread-eagled on the hearth to the sound of the reverberating gun shot. I pull out the sack of money from the safe and depart. Little Me's eyes have turned a sinister black. But I don't care. I step inside my coop and snatch Little Me out of its photo frame. The 5 year-old girl in the picture bids me goodbye for the very last time. I take out my lighter and set her yellow dress on fire. Little Me ashes away.



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