The Tenderness of Stones (Marion Fayolle, 2013)
The Tenderness of Stones is a beautiful and emotive graphic novel about the way we cope (or not) with death. The nameless narrator is in constant denial that her father is dying as she’s convinced this is one of his many jokes. If her dad behaves like a kid that needs 24-hour care, it’s not because of a cruel dementia, according to her, but because his father is jealous and wants to be treated by his wife the same way she treats her children.
The narrator’s immaturity relates to the inability of the human race to fully grasp the idea that every day brings us closer to death. Humanity has always tried to understand this through art and science, but this peculiar and highly inventive graphic novel wouldn’t work as a philosophy book or, worse, a self-help manual as none of its characters learns anything towards the end. They face reality towards the end because reality is relentless and gives them no other choice.
Marion Fayolle uses humour and surrealism to address a very somber subject, just like the protagonist who resorts to metaphors and metafiction to avoid dealing with the fate of her father, but the French author never sugarcoats how desolating death is even though her characters try to do the exact opposite.