alibi online
Weekly Alibi PodcastFree Will AstrologyAlibi's Personals
 V.23 No.12 | March 20 - 26, 2014 

Book Review

Not Here, But Almost

The River

Alessandro Sanna
Enchanted Lion Books
graphic novel

You’ll recognize everything here. Arched azure sky on a breeze-ruffled spring afternoon. Tessellation of sun on water. Early morning when the treetops are softened by a gauze of gray. Cranes with outstretched wings. Sunsets so flashy they could be sci-fi backdrops. Purpled storm clouds unleashing their torrents. And the entity at the center forming the spine of all these moments, organizing them, defining them—a wide and moody river.

The body of water that snakes through The River isn’t Albuquerque’s Rio Grande, but it almost could be. It’s important in the same way. Watercolorist Alessandro Sanna hails from northeastern Italy near the Po River. In his afterword, he writes, “I have tried to paint these moments and variations of light without first sketching them with a pencil and without knowing if I’d be able to find the right tone or the exact color of the veil of light draped over the sky, the trees, and the houses in the fog.” Perhaps he’s being disingenuous. Over 400 illustrations and almost no words make up The River—part picture book, part graphic novel, part artistic meditation on the lifecycle that defines a place—and they hum with a carefully considered vitality.

[click to enlarge]

Even if he didn’t plan out individual drawings, Sanna has an eye for what is distinct in a scene at each juncture. Here is the moon rising above the trees like an indrawn breath. Here are the birds startled into flight. Turning a page becomes a moment of palpable suspense and wonder: A spring shower gives way to the yellow blaze of summer’s sun; a lattice of bare branches suffuses progressive panels with the spare geometry of a frigid day amidst the sleeping wintertime world.

[click to enlarge]

A story unfolds for each season. In autumn, a town pulls together to battle a flood. Winter brings a schoolhouse, a snowfall, the birth of a calf and the cloud of its first warm breath. Spring is dizzy with young love and a boat party and linden trees bursting into blossom. The feverish heat of summer reveals a circus camping at the river’s edge and the animals being led for a drink. Sanna’s watercolors rise to meet each illustrative challenge, sometimes subdued in washes of gray and russet, sometimes bristling with crisp edges, and occasionally drifting into the whimsical with the flip of a dancer’s braids or the roaring face of an escaped tiger. The result is a volume of gorgeous art that will doubtless be marketed as a children’s book because of its publisher, the estimable Enchanted Lion Books, but I’d hate to see it pigeonholed that way. The River is a love letter and a fantasy, a chronicle and an introspection. It will remind you of home on the Bosque and take you somewhere else entirely.


Today's Events

Friday Night Comedy at Lodge at Santa Fe

Improv comedian Anthony Padilla performs. Featuring local comedians Ronn Perea and Goldie Garcia.

Rainbow Artists Art Show at First Unitarian Church

Roy and Kim at Tortuga Gallery

More Recommended Events ››
Join our mailing list for exclusive info, the week's events and free stuff!

  • Select sidebar boxes to add below. You can also click and drag to rearrange the boxes; close using the little X icons on each box. To re-add a box you closed, return to this menu.
  • Because you are not logged in, any changes you make to these boxes will vanish as soon as you click to another page. If you log in, the boxes will stick.
  • Latest Posts
  • Web Exclusives
  • Recent Rocksquawk Discussions
  • Recent Classifieds
  • Latest User Posts
  • Most Active Users
  • Most Active Stories
  • Calendar Comments
  • Upcoming Alibi Picks
  • Albuquerque
  • Duke City Fix
  • Albuquerque Beer Scene
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
  • Reddit Albuquerque
  • ABQ Journal Metro
  • ABQrising
  • ABQ Journal Latest News
  • Albuquerque
  • NM and the West
  • New Mexico FBIHOP
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • Only in New Mexico
  • Mario Burgos
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • High Country News
  • El Grito
  • NM Politics with Joe Monahan
  • Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log
  • The Net Is Vast and Infinite
  • Slashdot
  • Freedom to Tinker
  • Is there a feed that should be on this list? Tell us about it.
    tartar control and more
    tartar control and more7.20.2016