Macedonia

By Harvey Pekar and Heather Roberson. Illustrated by Ed Piskor. <i>Villard. $17.95.</i>

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Harvey Pekar is best known for his navel-gazing comic series, American Splendor, in which he enlists celebrated artists to illustrate tales of his humdrum life in Cleveland. His latest graphic novel is a departure from that trusty format. Instead of following a grousing Pekar, it tells the true-life story of Heather Roberson, an optimistic Berkeley peace studies major who travels to Macedonia in hopes of using the country’s avoidance of the post-Yugoslavian bloodshed to prove that “war isn’t, y’know, inevitable.”

Pekar, Roberson, and 25-year-old illustrator Ed Piskor are an interesting trio of talents, but they don’t mesh as Pekar did with previous collaborators such as R. Crumb and Joe Sacco. Perhaps that’s because Pekar’s not writing about himself or because Piskor has never seen Macedonia. It doesn’t help that Roberson’s research, the basis of the script, makes Pekar’s life as a filing clerk seem downright stimulating. While she delivers lengthy manifestos on Balkan history, Piskor draws her talking into her tape recorder in her hotel room. (Not that international affairs and comics can’t mix—just see Sacco’s masterpieces Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde or Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis.)

Roberson does learn how the Macedonians avoided going to war, but there’s no big payoff. The most memorable parts of her trip involve getting cheated, being accosted by strange men, and looking for a decent cup of coffee. At these times, you can feel the old Pekar peeking through the pages, chronicling the endless frustrations of everyday life.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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