The Cardboard Valise by Ben Katchor

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 Ben Katchor (“The creator of the last great American comic strip.”—Michael Chabon) gives us his first book in more than ten years: the story of the fantastical nation of Outer Canthus and the three people who, in some way or another, in­habit its shores.
Emile Delilah is a young xenophile (lover of foreign nations) so addicted to traveling to the exotic regions of Outer Canthus that the government pays him a monthly stipend just so he can continue his visits. Liv­ing in the same tenement as Emile are Boreal Rince, the exiled king of Outer Canthus, and Elijah Salamis, a supranationalist determined to erase the cultural and geographic boundaries that separate the citizens of the Earth. Although they rarely meet, their lives in­tertwine through the elaborate fictions they construct and inhabit: a vast panorama of humane hamburger stands, exquisitely ethereal ethnic restaurants, ancient restroom ruins, and wild tracts of land that fit neatly next to high-rise hotels. The Cardboard Valise is a graphic novel as travelogue; a canvas of semi-surrealism; and a poetic, whimsical, beguiling work of Ben Katchor’s dazzling imagination.

About Ben Katchor

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BEN KATCHOR is the author of The Cardboard Valise, The Jew of New York; Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District; and several works of musical theater with the composer Mark Mulcahy. He teaches at Parsons The New School for Design and has contributed to The New Yorker, The Forward, and Metropolis. The first cartoonist to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, he is the subject of the documentary The Pleasures of Urban Decay. He lives in New York.
Published March 15, 2011 by Pantheon. 128 pages
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels, Travel, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Cardboard Valise

Kirkus Reviews

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His tenement neighbors include Boreal Rince, the regal exile from the mythical realm of Outer Canthus (one of the narrative’s settings, along with Tensint Island) and Elijah Salamis, whose first name might be confused with Emile’s and whose last name conjures the sort of food that permeates the b...

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Publishers Weekly

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In this winsomely haunting graphic novel from Katchor—whose weekly strips have been collected into The Jew of New York and Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, among others—an overstuffed suitcase becomes a ripe, comic metaphor for modern life.

Jan 03 2011 | Read Full Review of The Cardboard Valise

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Well, in The Cardboard Valise, Ben Katchor's latest graphic novel, which consists of an intricately interwoven yet loosely collated collection of one-page strips (some of which do cohere to form more extended shaggy-dog narratives), artist and storyteller Katchor has achieved the goal Borges only...

Mar 23 2011 | Read Full Review of The Cardboard Valise

Portland Book Review

I bet you will find something that will interest you 5 stars for a cleverly devised mystery set in PDX a must read for the tween reader in your family When you hold the handle of this book, it appears to be an overstuffed suitcase.

Aug 01 2011 | Read Full Review of The Cardboard Valise

Fiction Writers Review

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Fiction Writers Review

Katchor portrays Delilah as a benign extremist, addicted to foreign lands and suffering from a condition he describes as “a morbid love for every nation but [one’s] own.” In fact, even when Delilah returns home to Fluxion City—apparently located seven miles southeast of Bayonne, New Jersey—he mai...

Jun 30 2011 | Read Full Review of The Cardboard Valise

A collection of eight-panel strips that previously appeared in various publications, it’s just as delightfully surreal as Katchor’s other books, which include The Jew of New York and Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District.

Apr 26 2011 | Read Full Review of The Cardboard Valise

Boston Review

The Cardboard Valise, however, trends ever more visibly toward a solidly novelistic conclusion, in which (1) opposed persons, acting out the compulsions of their characters within the constraints of their social world, reach (2) resolutions of abasement or transcendence in (3) a carnivalesque cli...

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