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From one of Europe’s most celebrated young comics artists, a deeply personal story that will resonate with all of us who have chosen to love in the face of great challenges
One summer night at a house party, Fred met Cati. Though they barely spoke, he vividly remembered her gracefulness and abandon. They meet again years later, and this time their connection is instantaneous. But when things become serious, a nervous Cati tells him that she and her three-year-old son are both HIV positive. With great beauty and economy, Peeters traces the development of their intimacy and their revelatory relationship with a doctor whose affection and frankness allow them to fully realize their passionate connection. Then Cati’s son gets sick, bringing Fred face to face with death. It forces him to question the meaning of life, illness, and love until a Socratic dialogue with a mammoth helps him recognize that living with illness is also a gift; it has freed him to savor his life with Cati.
Like the best graphic memoirs, Blue Pills puts a daunting subject into artistic and human terms in a way that is refreshingly honest and profoundly accessible. A brave and unsentimental romance, Blue Pills will resonate with anyone whose love has faced great obstacles and triumphed.
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Frederik Peeters, born in 1974, is an established comics artist. Acquired and translated by the same editor who brought Persepolis to the United States, Blue Pills is Peeters’s first book to be translated into English. Frederik Peeters currently lives with his girlfriend, her son, and their young daughter in Geneva.From Publishers Weekly:
Originally published in Switzerland, Peeters's comics memoir of his romance with an HIV-positive woman named Cati (whose young son is also seropositive) is a new and sweeter kind of AIDS narrative-set in the era when HIV has become a chronic condition rather than a death sentence. There's not much of a plot here (the unnamed boy gets sick, then better; Peeters and Cati panic after a condom breaks, and are reassured by their doctor), but the book is much more about Peeters's fluid, slashing, unfailingly evocative ink brushwork documenting the psychological changes he's gone through. Sure-handedly caricatured facial expressions and body language tell a lot of the story, and almost every page is punctuated with a silent panel or two that suggests the way Peeters's newly expanded awareness of his mortality has made him more aware of the world he lives in, too. The final chapters feature an ingenious visual metaphor: after a doctor tells Peeters that he has "as much chance of catching AIDS as you have of running into a white rhinoceros on your way out," he imagines himself stalked everywhere by the rhino. It's a small gem of a book, whose only real flaw is an ungainly English translation, larded with unfiltered Gallicisms.
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