Harkness, M.S. – Desperate Measures

February 9, 2023


Desperate Measures or here

Well, the bad news is that I may have waited too long after CXC in Columbus for M.S. to still have copies of this book on her website. But it is still out there, and for a few bucks more it even comes with a signed print. That was probably supposed to go at the end of the review, but I am just never going to get my end of this thing right. She’s also not making my pledge to go out and check out her older comics easy, as everything on her website is sold out right now (February 2023). Oh, the troubles I’ve seen! Maybe I should talk about the graphic novel, huh? It’s a riveting autobiographical look at her past, how it shapes her present and makes it extremely difficult to have a future. When it comes to love and dating anyway, but it’s a long story, so I prefer the ambiguity on my end. Things start off with a vivid memory she’s having of waiting for her father to come back ashore from his boating job. My early impression was that she was looking forward to this, but there’s reason to doubt that reaction fairly quickly. From there we spend the bulk of the book seeing the intimate details of her life, and M.S. is not the type to hold anything back. We read plenty about her dating habits, a couple of methods she uses to get extra cash, her troubles at starting a relationship and her (at times) indifference to even trying. Her main serious romantic focus here is split between two guys: one a longer term friend/partner, and one a newer guy who makes an immediate impression by treating her differently than usual to start things off. She seems to have more potential with the long term dude (make no mistake, she’s well aware of that), but the baggage of the past is a tricky thing to escape. There’s a lengthy, mostly silent section towards the middle dealing with more specific memories of her childhood, what her mother must have dealt with and a desperate attempt at change. There are lighter bits in here too, like her training her brother on weightlifting, in case you were worried about it getting too dark. Still, things are grim for her quite a bit in this book and, like I said, she’s not one to shy away from showing all the gory details. One thing that struck me reading this (it’s my first since Tinderella, so it’s been several years) is how much she’s matured as a writer. It’s not like she was a dullard before, but there were so many clever, insightful or devastating turns of phrase here that it’s impossible to pick one to highlight. I tried to find a solid sample page for examples, but just looking at it makes me think of a dozen others I could have used. All of this rambling feels like me just scratching the surface. I haven’t even mentioned her brilliant fake standup routine and the entirely too real reactions of the audience, or the adderal extravaganza, or pointing out the danger of the textured wall while having sex. Or the quiet moments and how they add layers onto an already complex story. Ah well, since I can’t mention everything, I might as well call it a day. After all, I already mentioned that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and that you should find yourself a copy, right? It also looks like she has a new book coming out this year, so now’s your chance to get caught up before that happens. $17 (ish)