Two best friends and previous collaborators’ (Ain’t Burned All the Bright) diary-style accounting of their years spent living together in New York City is a moving, poetic, and visually rich homage to friendship, perseverance, and growth. “Regular guys. Survivors. Friends. Brothers”—acclaimed author Reynolds and renowned artist Griffin are all those things and more. Moving from Maryland to N.Y.C. in the early 2000s, the college roommates turned housemates work together to pursue their respective aspirations. Reynolds’s rhythmic poems speak to the duo’s adjustment to life in a new city (“a painful paradise for the unpretty”), the personal and professional sacrifices made to follow their dreams to survive by creating art (“My mom got sick.... I never should’ve left home”), and the challenges of expressing emotion and vulnerability (“Men don’t cry/or write poetry/or paint”). Griffin’s multimedia art adds a vibrant parallel perspective to Reynolds’s grounding poems. Visually, the text, formatted in myriad fonts, colors, and orientations, and the illustrations, which include ink sketches, vibrantly hued watercolors, and bold collages, astutely encompasses the duo’s varying struggles over the years. This compact, inspirational volume stands as a testament to the value of artistic expression and the power of friendship in self-discovery. Ages 12–up. Agents: (for Reynolds) Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties; (for Griffin) Lydia Wills, Paradigm. (June)
12/1/2022 - Horn Book
An eye-opening portrait-of-the-artists archive filled with memories, ephemera, and optimism (and appended with a new afterword by Reynolds and Griffin).
An artful collaboration; a love story.
In the early aughts, acclaimed writer Reynolds and accomplished artist Griffin shared a first name, a college dorm room, and a plan to move to New York City to pursue their overlapping dreams. This mixed-media art project and collection of poems is the result of their striving and struggles and the strength of their friendship. A number of entries focus on differences, for example, between Griffin’s red hair and Reynolds’ black curls. By way of contrast and juxtaposition, this is a story of connection between visual art and poetry, between dreams and real life in Brooklyn, and between two young men who eschewed many cultural expectations regarding what two men can mean to one another and how they should express their emotions and creativity. Their history is illustrated in bold colors, and the printed words are complemented by hand-lettered text. While the unevenness of the textual and visual presentations can at times present more as an uneasy distraction than a cohesive narrative—like when Reynolds’ well-grounded anxieties about New York or the precarious health of his mother are set against Griffin’s art-world ambitions and passions—the creative effort forces readers to constantly give attention to form, process, and relationships of all sorts.
Two Jasons share their singular experiences with all those who value art. (Poetry. 12-15)