Monday, January 6, 2014

The Red Tree

I have discovered another King of Black Whimsy.  This man:

Australian Writer Illustrator Shaun Tan.  Here is his supurb website if you would like to know more about him and his work.  He also keeps a blog.

Today, I am going to write about a picture book he wrote called The Red Tree.  It is also one of the three stories collected in this book:

So, here's the tale:

It really isn't a story at all.  Just a series of thematically linked images, filled with both despair and imagination.  Some of my favorites:

Sometimes the day begins
with nothing to look forward to

overcomes you

Nobody understands

you just don't know
what you are supposed to do

or who you are meant to be

Pretty dismal stuff, right?  Each of the paintings follows a little redheaded girl as she travels through life being very downheartened and depressed.  The text is minimal at best but the text is just a sort of nudge to get you into the correct mindset to appreciate the paintings as they were intended.  It truly is all about the artwork.  Tan has managed to illustrate what it's like to feel depressed, to feel like the world is out to get you, like you're alone and unloved.  The emotions in these paintings are almost tangible.

Just when it seems like there is no light, hope comes in the form of the titular Red Tree:

But suddenly there it is
right in front of you
bright and ivid
quietly waiting

Just as you imagined it would be

read Tan's thoughts on the story here.

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