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We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe

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In her first ever graphic memoir, four-time Emmy-winning comedy writer Merrill Markoe unearths her treasured diaries, long kept under lock and key, to illustrate the hilarious story of her preteen and teen years and how she came to realize that her secret power was her humor. Wielding her layered and comically absurd style, Markoe takes readers back through her time as a G In her first ever graphic memoir, four-time Emmy-winning comedy writer Merrill Markoe unearths her treasured diaries, long kept under lock and key, to illustrate the hilarious story of her preteen and teen years and how she came to realize that her secret power was her humor. Wielding her layered and comically absurd style, Markoe takes readers back through her time as a Girl Scout, where she learned that “scouting” was really more about learning housewifery skills, to her earliest crushes on uniquely awful boys and her growing obsession with television. Much has changed in our world since Markoe wrote in her diaries, or has it? Climate change wasn’t yet a rallying call, but the growing hole in the ozone preoccupied Markoe’s young mind. No one was flocking to the desert for Burning Man, but Markoe readily partook in the Ken Kesey Acid Test. As she charts the divide between her adolescence and adulthood, Markoe questions and berates her younger self, revealing how much is opaque to us in those young years. Perfect for fans of Roz Chast, Allie Brosh, and Lynda Barry, We Saw Scenery is a laugh-out-loud story of a girl growing up, told from the perspective of the woman she became, and it will speak to all who wanted to understand themselves in the midst of their own maturing.


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In her first ever graphic memoir, four-time Emmy-winning comedy writer Merrill Markoe unearths her treasured diaries, long kept under lock and key, to illustrate the hilarious story of her preteen and teen years and how she came to realize that her secret power was her humor. Wielding her layered and comically absurd style, Markoe takes readers back through her time as a G In her first ever graphic memoir, four-time Emmy-winning comedy writer Merrill Markoe unearths her treasured diaries, long kept under lock and key, to illustrate the hilarious story of her preteen and teen years and how she came to realize that her secret power was her humor. Wielding her layered and comically absurd style, Markoe takes readers back through her time as a Girl Scout, where she learned that “scouting” was really more about learning housewifery skills, to her earliest crushes on uniquely awful boys and her growing obsession with television. Much has changed in our world since Markoe wrote in her diaries, or has it? Climate change wasn’t yet a rallying call, but the growing hole in the ozone preoccupied Markoe’s young mind. No one was flocking to the desert for Burning Man, but Markoe readily partook in the Ken Kesey Acid Test. As she charts the divide between her adolescence and adulthood, Markoe questions and berates her younger self, revealing how much is opaque to us in those young years. Perfect for fans of Roz Chast, Allie Brosh, and Lynda Barry, We Saw Scenery is a laugh-out-loud story of a girl growing up, told from the perspective of the woman she became, and it will speak to all who wanted to understand themselves in the midst of their own maturing.

30 review for We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    An interesting idea falls flat in execution as the author publishes extracts from her diaries as a tween and teenager in the early 1960s. For a graphic novel, it is text heavy with each page containing a typeset paragraph of insight from the author in the present day, a typeset diary entry, and a one-panel illustration or cartoon related to the diary entry. At 278 pages, it becomes a drag, especially when a lot of it revolves around crushes or favorite TV shows. Too often the word balloon placeme An interesting idea falls flat in execution as the author publishes extracts from her diaries as a tween and teenager in the early 1960s. For a graphic novel, it is text heavy with each page containing a typeset paragraph of insight from the author in the present day, a typeset diary entry, and a one-panel illustration or cartoon related to the diary entry. At 278 pages, it becomes a drag, especially when a lot of it revolves around crushes or favorite TV shows. Too often the word balloon placement makes it difficult to read the cartoon dialogue in the correct order. There are some cool tidbits buried throughout, and it is amazing just how much the inner lives of children remain unchanged over the decades, as I recognized recurring themes and ideas from my childhood a decade later and my daughter's 40 years later. It's a less weird version of Lynda Barry, whose text-heavy work doesn't really do much for me either. See also the similar Fab 4 Mania by Carol Tyler.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    I had no idea who the author was prior to selecting this book to read. A quick Wikipedia search informs me that she is a somewhat renown comic writer, mostly famous as the woman behind The Letterman show and, for a decade long ago, behind, above and below Letterman himself. So I wouldn’t have known her, I don’t like Letterman, not especially, not the man, not the show. Nor do I really think that diaries should be published and shared, especially childhood ones, but this was genuinely pretty funn I had no idea who the author was prior to selecting this book to read. A quick Wikipedia search informs me that she is a somewhat renown comic writer, mostly famous as the woman behind The Letterman show and, for a decade long ago, behind, above and below Letterman himself. So I wouldn’t have known her, I don’t like Letterman, not especially, not the man, not the show. Nor do I really think that diaries should be published and shared, especially childhood ones, but this was genuinely pretty funny. Turns out if you hone comedic skills over the decades, you can actually take something like a blandly cliched diary of a young girl and turn it into something readable. So that’s basically the book, the preteen and teen years of Markoe, a portrait of an author as a young girl. Growing up with thoroughly unpleasant people who really, really shouldn’t have been parents, who, among other things, are prone to dramatic relocations, during which…she saw scenery. There’s nothing special here, except for Markoe’s humorous take on things, given from the perspective of age. The art is ok, but the portraiture is weird at times, with a creepy angularity and flatness to faces. The entire thing reads very quickly given the almost 300 page count, but doesn’t offer all that much to recommend itself outside of a some laughs. But then again, any book that'll make me laugh in this day and age is worth a read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    J Earl

    We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe is a hilarious and poignant graphic memoir. The situations, while specific to her and the era, will still be relatable to any adult reflecting on their own youth. I am just a tad younger than her so I could relate fairly well to a lot of what she went through. In addition to the basic idea that as children and adolescents we blow everything out of proportion, it was also fun to remember the big differences in life then versus now. For instance, We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe is a hilarious and poignant graphic memoir. The situations, while specific to her and the era, will still be relatable to any adult reflecting on their own youth. I am just a tad younger than her so I could relate fairly well to a lot of what she went through. In addition to the basic idea that as children and adolescents we blow everything out of proportion, it was also fun to remember the big differences in life then versus now. For instance, without even commenting directly on the current trend of putting every detail of one's life on social media, she still makes the comparison when she emphasizes the need for a key to protect her very private diaries. The very same type of information used nowadays to get followers and likes. Is it any wonder that people are so fragile today? What could break us if even a portion got out years ago is now broadcast on various forms of toxic social media, then people are surprised when the cruelty starts. But I digress. Markoe really makes this a fun trip even through the painful parts, and when she speaks with her younger self the banter is just about what one would expect. Those were perhaps my favorite parts of the book. Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via Edelweiss.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    So glad to have received a copy of this ARC from Netgalley! In this excellent graphic memoir, comedy writer Merrill Markoe gives us a look at her girlhood journals, providing wry and self-deprecating commentary alongside lively and humorous illustrations, all of which made me laugh aloud. Markoe grew up in Miami and California, in the 50s and 60s, and, for some reason, I was expecting for her adolescence to feel more removed from my own 90s girlhood. But, wow - I could so easily relate her diari So glad to have received a copy of this ARC from Netgalley! In this excellent graphic memoir, comedy writer Merrill Markoe gives us a look at her girlhood journals, providing wry and self-deprecating commentary alongside lively and humorous illustrations, all of which made me laugh aloud. Markoe grew up in Miami and California, in the 50s and 60s, and, for some reason, I was expecting for her adolescence to feel more removed from my own 90s girlhood. But, wow - I could so easily relate her diaries to my own! My only complaint is in the abrupt ending; I would have liked more of a wrap-up and a reflection on the diaries themselves. I understand that this book only covers young Merrill, and she gives her a clear send-off, but there is no lead up to to the goodbye, or explanation for why the book ends where it does. Relatable, smart, and funny, I recommend this quick read to fans of graphic memoir, coming-of-age comedy, and the diary form.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Well. I am generally a fan of graphic biographies and memoirs, but this one was difficult for me. I can totally relate to the idea of revisiting your childhood diaries, as my mum is a prodigious diarist and I have maintained one most of my life too. But the structure of this book left me confused. Clearly Markoe is working on some stuff here. She shows a lot of discontent with her childhood, having what seems like a terrible relationship with her mother, especially, feeling like an outcast among Well. I am generally a fan of graphic biographies and memoirs, but this one was difficult for me. I can totally relate to the idea of revisiting your childhood diaries, as my mum is a prodigious diarist and I have maintained one most of my life too. But the structure of this book left me confused. Clearly Markoe is working on some stuff here. She shows a lot of discontent with her childhood, having what seems like a terrible relationship with her mother, especially, feeling like an outcast among her peer group, and yearning for relationships with boys but utterly failing—and feeling really shitty about it—until she was hanging out with artsy beatniks at the end of high school (in the mid-1960s). Considering that this is a woman who has made herself a fairly successful career as a comedy writer, this book is pretty bleak. I suppose many comedians have pretty sad, fucked up lives, so this shouldn’t be a surprise, but if this was supposed to be funny, I didn’t find it so. Also I kept getting thrown off by the order of the speech bubbles in sections with dialogue or exchanges between characters (mostly adult Markoe speaking to her younger self), and also the chronology, which jumped around a lot. I’ve read a fair amount of graphics and I found this a poor design choice—it really messed up the rhythm of the reading for me. Altogether it was fairly disappointing and I won’t be in any kind of hurry to read anything else she has written.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    For a woman of a certain age, an embarrassing diary (complete with klunky key) from her teen or preteen years was de rigueur: embarrassingly shallow, embarrassingly self-obsessed, . . .and hysterically funny for anyone else to get their hands on. In this spot-on self-illustrated graphic novel in diary format, journalist and TV writer Merrill Markoe hits all the marks with her 1960's (pop-)cultural references, family dramas, and so-called romantic interludes as only the voice of a cleverly dyspep For a woman of a certain age, an embarrassing diary (complete with klunky key) from her teen or preteen years was de rigueur: embarrassingly shallow, embarrassingly self-obsessed, . . .and hysterically funny for anyone else to get their hands on. In this spot-on self-illustrated graphic novel in diary format, journalist and TV writer Merrill Markoe hits all the marks with her 1960's (pop-)cultural references, family dramas, and so-called romantic interludes as only the voice of a cleverly dyspeptic teenage girl can do. Oh, and it's a particularly nice touch that the older, wiser adult Markoe makes frequent appearances throughout the book, to dialogue with her younger self and alternately offer withering criticism or big-sisterly empathy, as the situation should require. The book's title makes reference to the cross-country family road trip that the Markoes endured for the purpose of relocating from Florida to San Francisco, mid-diary, and as such seems to be more of an ironic than a particularly pivotal choice, in terms of summarizing the book as a whole. In terms of unabashedly frank and funny and poignant graphic memoirs, Roz Chast, you have company! Would bet that a sequel is in the works somewhere in the recesses of Ms. Markoe's zany brain.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Raven Black

    I had never heard of Merrill Markoe, but now will look into their other works. Reminiscent of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home style (but a lot less serious), this book about growing up in the late 1950's and through the 1960's through the pages of old diaries (with perfect commentary), Markoe shows us history of the country, their influences and the pains of growing up (brother pains, parent pains and trying to fit in, until you realize you shouldn't). "Flash Nows" (Markoe talking to her younger self, I had never heard of Merrill Markoe, but now will look into their other works. Reminiscent of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home style (but a lot less serious), this book about growing up in the late 1950's and through the 1960's through the pages of old diaries (with perfect commentary), Markoe shows us history of the country, their influences and the pains of growing up (brother pains, parent pains and trying to fit in, until you realize you shouldn't). "Flash Nows" (Markoe talking to her younger self, trying to give advice) add to the humor. After all, even if we could give advice to our younger self, would our younger self take it? Illustrations that can be awkward sometimes to see, but fit the story perfectly, literally illustrator this fun and crazy journey.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Schultz

    Read if you: Are a big fan of graphic memoirs by women. I've been hoping for a graphic novel/memoir from Merrill Markoe for a long time, and this was worth the wait! Anyone who's looked back at their childhood diaries/writings will particularly empathize and enjoy. Librarians/booksellers: Graphic memoirs are quite popular at the moment--definitely purchase if your patrons/customers like Roz Chast and other similar memoirists. Many thanks to Algonquin Books and Edelweiss for a digital review copy Read if you: Are a big fan of graphic memoirs by women. I've been hoping for a graphic novel/memoir from Merrill Markoe for a long time, and this was worth the wait! Anyone who's looked back at their childhood diaries/writings will particularly empathize and enjoy. Librarians/booksellers: Graphic memoirs are quite popular at the moment--definitely purchase if your patrons/customers like Roz Chast and other similar memoirists. Many thanks to Algonquin Books and Edelweiss for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Robin Blankenship

    I liked this book. I liked the set of her present self talking to her past self. It was engaging but my issues was it was kind of hard to follow sometimes, it just seemed all over the place. The parts I wish she would have elaborate she just glanced at. And other things she spent forever on were not what I was interested in. But over all a good book. She has a nice style and her wit shows through.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David

    I received this book as an ARC. An enjoyable read. While I can't relate to the specific situations provided in this book, being a different age, religion, and gender, it's all relatable to what I went through growing up and I suspect to many other people as well. The book ends eventually without any great reveal, so I will have to wait until the release of Markoe's middle diaries. If they even exist. I received this book as an ARC. An enjoyable read. While I can't relate to the specific situations provided in this book, being a different age, religion, and gender, it's all relatable to what I went through growing up and I suspect to many other people as well. The book ends eventually without any great reveal, so I will have to wait until the release of Markoe's middle diaries. If they even exist.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    This was a book was one that I requested after reading a review of, months ago, and forgot about until my request came in. I hadn’t read anything by Markoe before but I loved the way that adult and teen Merrill were in conversation with one another. It’s mostly an exploration of adolescent diaries and how memories are formed (or forgotten) through life. Not exactly uplifting but extremely relatable.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda Lomazow

    Merrill Markoe had me hysterical from the first pages.Her drawings her relationship with her family and the icing on the cake her diaries with the key. We are of the same generation I also have my diaries packed away in a closet.with all my oh so not important entries.This was a perfect read a light fun book full of nostalgia for me Will be gifting to friends who I k ow will enjoy a good laughThanks Algonquin for my arc

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emilia P

    Eh! I've read plenty of this childhood/youth reflective stuff, and old Merrill needed to have way more of an editorial/momentum building voice than she did to suck you in. The drawings weren't bad, but they also were nothing overwhelming, and I....just liked this better when it was Carol Tyler basically eek. Eh! I've read plenty of this childhood/youth reflective stuff, and old Merrill needed to have way more of an editorial/momentum building voice than she did to suck you in. The drawings weren't bad, but they also were nothing overwhelming, and I....just liked this better when it was Carol Tyler basically eek.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shannan Hicks

    I enjoyed this graphic novel by Merrrill Markoe. It took me back to the days of "seeing scenery" in my own youth. I am glad to see that graphic novels like this and Roz Chast's are being published. It is a really accessible way to read a humorous book. I enjoyed this graphic novel by Merrrill Markoe. It took me back to the days of "seeing scenery" in my own youth. I am glad to see that graphic novels like this and Roz Chast's are being published. It is a really accessible way to read a humorous book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

    LOVE this! Want to know what it'd be like to go back through your childhood and teenage diaries? Merrill Markoe does, and shows us the ups downs and complete lack of perspective that (for many) comes along with lack of experience. I want to check out more of her books. LOVE this! Want to know what it'd be like to go back through your childhood and teenage diaries? Merrill Markoe does, and shows us the ups downs and complete lack of perspective that (for many) comes along with lack of experience. I want to check out more of her books.

  16. 4 out of 5

    J

    What a fun ride through an angst filled adolescence. I hope Merrill plans to continue a graphic novel memoir series. My hippocampus is just as mysterious as hers. I'm also feeling inspired to begin journaling again. I would be fun to see what my hippocampus decides to remember. What a fun ride through an angst filled adolescence. I hope Merrill plans to continue a graphic novel memoir series. My hippocampus is just as mysterious as hers. I'm also feeling inspired to begin journaling again. I would be fun to see what my hippocampus decides to remember.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Cute little graphic novel-type of the author's discovered diaries with illustrations. Very amusing. I literally laughed out loud numerous time. This is a quick and easy read, and I recommend it. I won this from Goodreads . Cute little graphic novel-type of the author's discovered diaries with illustrations. Very amusing. I literally laughed out loud numerous time. This is a quick and easy read, and I recommend it. I won this from Goodreads .

  18. 4 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    A somewhat non-linear memoir that quite frankly is depressing as hell.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Wendopolis

    I have no idea who Merrill Markoe is, but this graphic memoir is pretty funny!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amanda [Novel Addiction]

    A good read. I'd hate to go back through my childhood journals. A good read. I'd hate to go back through my childhood journals.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    I cannot resist a teen diary.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Wren

    This was the greatest. I wish every book was this book. Everyone with a childhood diary should stop and illustrate it right now.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

    A quirky look back at the authors tween and teen diaries, brought to life in a graphic novel format.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    It was good. Not great.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tom

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Zappulla

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sherri

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Funk

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