Writer – Miguel Peres, Artist – Majory Yokomizo, Letterer & Design – Mario Freitas
Lethe is lost. Lost on a mysterious island. He forages and fishes, trying to find where he is, where he came from. Who he is. The sea gives up the flotsam and jetsam of his life – pomegranates and shards of broken glass.
In the middle of the island there rises a strange monument, some kind of uncanny totem pole with weird carvings. Lethe shelters from a storm within the monument. But the monument rains glass upon him.
Fishing Memories is a thoughtful work dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. Lethe himself is named after the river of forgetfulness in the underworld realm of Hades. He slips between the island that his mind maroons him on and his new life in a facility where his loving family visit him. His brittle consciousness a fragile monument showering him with shards of glass.
Lethe is an unsentimental man – a working class mechanic with few pretensions. This helps steer the book on the right side of sentimentality for the most part – a difficult balance to keep. We see not just the impact that dementia has on Lethe but also on the terrible impact on his family.
Majory Yokomizo’s artwork brings the subtle touch that this work needs. Her watercolour style has soft edges which are faded and washed out just like Lethe’s memory. Depictions of the natural world – trees, the ocean – are executed skillfully. The book has several full page splashes which are impressive. The postscript is in pencilled form and depicts the earlier life of Lethe and his wife. The use of different illustrative techniques to depict different eras of life is effective.
In many ways this is a frightening book. Our memories are the foundation of who we are. They create the self. To lose them is to lose ourselves. What happened to Lethe happens to many people – it could happen to us. Lethe has lived a life with meaning, through his work but especially through his family. The love of his family offers some kind of consolation if not salvation. As Lethe himself says “I never needed to feel better, as long as I’m close to the ones I love.”
Fishing Memories takes on a difficult subject that is seldom represented in any media. As well as a beautifully told story, it could be used as part of awareness campaigns aimed at young adults. This is a book that reminds us of an important part of our humanity.
Fishing Memories will be published as a graphic novel in June 2021 by Blue Fox Comics, with a Kickstarter due to start in March/April 2021.