book review: baloney

Baloney is “A Tale in 3 Symphonic Acts” by Pascal Blanchet. It’s a beautiful book with art all in shades of white black and red and a kind of retro cartoony design sense.

In a small town there is a butcher named Baloney, who’s had a sad life. His wife fell to her death from the town’s cliffs and his daughter has lost a hand, a leg and her sight. He knows she won’t be able to go to a good school so he sends for a tutor. The tutor is a dreamer and man of science and they run afoul of the tyrant of the town who sells all the heat. Nothing good comes of it.

The neat feature is how each act is preceded by a description of the music accompanying it. Example:

Orchestration: Slow waltz in a minor key

  • Bass for gravity
  • Flute for the wind
  • Vibraphone for mystery and snow
  • Cellos for austerity
  • Oboe for melancholy

I really liked how that worked and especially how it slowed down the way I read the book. There’s a playlist at the end that gives the different characters and themes their own music (mostly Shostakovich and Prokofiev.

The story doesn’t have many words and would work as a picturebook bedtime story if you wanted your kid to grow up to be Chris Ware. It’s a great dark little book.

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