9/11 Heartbreaker Review

This short but emotional tale is definitely worth a look. To be honest, some may be put off by its somewhat crude renderings but writer/artist Craig Staufenberg does an admirable job of keeping the tale focused, which is not easy considering its dealing with memories rather than any strict narrative.

9/11 Heartbreaker is Staufenberg’s first book, and as a 28 page one-shot it holds up well. It follows an unnamed young woman and her reflections on the tragic events of September 11. There’s no dialogue as all the text is conveyed through captions. It may be hard to believe that Staufenberg took 2 years to create this as it’s not an intricately realised book, at least visually, but there is a sense that every word was chosen with great care and each page does have a certain resonance. Of course, 9/11 was such a universal day for the world, regardless of where you were and Staufenberg wisely shows no images from the day and avoids all the politics behind it all. What he does bring to the surface is the power of quiet reflection, but it’s not a depressing book to read.

The young woman at the centre of this tale meets Peter, a photographer at a karaoke bar who records students’ recollections of 9/11 for his site. Most of the plot here is driven by the woman’s inner thoughts, but also memories of others, including a student from Peter’s site and her friend Mary, who wonders why signs on the subway ask passengers to be alert for any suspicious activity, when the subways are so run down, that they shouldn’t even bother protecting them.

Inspired, the woman travels to various locations and takes photos of places and statues of historical significance. Like I said, it’s a somewhat quaint book, where not a lot necessarily happens. However, I couldn’t help but be charmed by it and the last few pages are surprisingly touching. I hope Staufenberg continues writing stories, as there’s some obvious talent on display and although some may be put off by the hand lettering and simple (though colour) art, I found it added to the project as a whole, making it seem real and relatable.

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