Monday, December 07, 2015

Booknote: Trashed

Derf Backderf, Trashed. New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2015. ISBN: 9781419714535. 

Genre: comics and graphic novels
Subgenre: humor, jobs, garbage men, waste management
Format: e-book galley
Source: NetGalley

This is another great selection by Derf, author of of My Friend Dahmer and Punk Rock and Trailer Parks (link to my review). In this volume, Derf does two things. One, this is a book inspired by his real life experiences as a garbage man back in the early 1980s. Turns out the garbage industry has not changed as much from his days. Two, he does some deep research to teach us various facts, trivia, and other information about how much trash we throw out and how the waste management industry works. The combination of those two elements makes for a very interesting, entertaining, and accessible book.

Derf shows us that trash does not just disappear like magic when you put it out on the curb. A lot of people work hard to pick it up, and then there is a whole industry concerned with dealing with it. He also shows us the high costs of all that waste financially and environmentally.  The nonfiction parts are well researched, and he also provides notes on the sources he used if you want to learn more. I found those parts very interesting, and if anyone is interested in the topic, the book makes an excellent starting point.

Then, you have Derf telling stories about garbage men. As he mentions in the introduction, this is not autobiographical (or so he claims). The events depicted are inspired by experiences he had during his days as a garbageman. And boy, can they be funny. Derf follows three 20-something guys who join a small town garbage crew, and they encounter all sorts of crazy people. Some of those crazy people actually work for the town too. Rain or shine, blazing hot or snowy and cold, the garbage men go out to do the routes and collect the trash. Some of the things they find may amaze you, or they may amuse you. Also, now and then, some of the things they find can be sad or poignant, such as clearing out foreclosure piles (the stuff people leave behind when their house got foreclosed in the bad economy). The book can be hilarious at times, but it can also be moving at times. Derf combines passion, humor, and sincerity in a great story about the men who pick up our junk and trash and barely even get thanks for it.

This book is a solid selection for libraries. I know I will make sure my library gets a copy. In addition, this is definitely one I would add to my personal collection, so I highly recommend it. If you have read his others, you will enjoy this one as well. Readers will laugh and learn something at the same time. Given that we are in Christmas season now, I would say this would make a good gift to any graphic novels fan on your gift list.

5 out of 5 stars.

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This book qualifies for the following 2015 Reading Challenges:

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