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01 May, 2006

Book Review: Drawing a Blank by Daniel Ehrenhaft, Illustrated by Trevor Ristow

Read and reviewed for armchair interviews

Told through the eyes of seventeen year old Carleton Duane (the IV), the story takes us from a boarding school in upstate Connecticut, to New York City, to Scotland. Carleton is a rather reserved teen, who has been sent to school at a ritzy boarding school. He is artistically bent, and spends much of his time in class doodling, and drawing his comics (which are printed in the local paper under his father’s name - Carleton Duanne III –whom he has led the editor to believe he is). Carleton’s life is thrown into chaos, when he receives a late night phone call from Scotland telling him that his father has been kidnapped, and the only way to free him is to bring the “Proof” of this age old feud between two Scottish clans. There is only one problem. Carleton has always believed his father was nuts, and the feud a made up event. He has no idea what the “proof” required is. What follows is a wacky tale of Carleton’s travels to try and rescue his father.

Carleton sneaks out of school to go back home, unknowingly setting off a panic about his disappearance. He arrives home in New York City to find his apartment ransacked by someone else looking for the “proof” his mysterious caller had mentioned, and a very strange last will and testament written by his father years earlier (which refers to the feud but does not explain it at all) in a drawer usually kept locked in his father’s desk. He flies to Scotland, and is almost run over by an unmarked big black van when he arrives. On top of all this, he is rescued by a girl who might not be what or whom she seems to be.

Author Daniel Ehrenhaft and artist Trevor Ristow have collaborated their talents to make an intently humorous story. Ehrenhaft’s delightful tale is punctuated with Ristow’s drawings that illustrate how Carleton looses himself in his drawing and uses his comics to explore his emotions at the time of drawing. While this is not a graphic novel, but fiction with inserted illustrated comic pages, the comic pages scattered throughout the book might interest fans of the graphic novel genre as well.

Armchair Interviews says: Readers of this book will have a fun time reading about Carleton’s travels, and finding out how he manages to solve the mystery of who has kidnapped his father, end a feud that has lasted generations, and find the time to meet the girl of his dreams.

ISBN10: 0060752521
ISBN13: 9780060752521
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: April 2006
Binding: Hardcover

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