Walden Revisited

A graphic novel version of Thoreau’s classic doesn’t dumb it down.

When Henry David Thoreau wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” he knew those words spoke a truth about the human condition across the ages. Reading Walden today seems more relevant than ever with its prescription for living authentically and simply in harmony with nature. Thoreau didn’t use words like “sustainability,” but he would have immediately grasped the concept. In fact, he is considered the godfather of the environmental movement. Many modern readers, however, find his prose archaic and his Transcendentalist philosophy equally impenetrable.

Lucky for them, King-Cat creator John Porcellino has written a beautiful, thought-provoking book that allows readers to take in the essence of Thoreau’s genius in a single sitting. King-Cat is known for its own exploration of existential themes in a format — comics — and manner that makes high-concept ideas accessible to a broad audience, and Porcellino’s latest work, Thoreau at Walden, is no different. While not a word-for-word rendering of the original, it captures the spirit of Thoreau’s masterpiece through imagery and a judicious use of quotes from both Walden and some of the author’s lesser-known essays.

Porcellino celebrates the book’s release tonight, beginning with musical performances by Andy Falconetti (Breezy Porticos), Ted Thacker (Veronica/Baldo Rex) and Rotaree at 5 p.m. at Wax Trax, 683 East 13th Avenue. The concert will be followed by a book signing next door at Kilgore Books — Denver’s newest, hippest used bookstore — from 7 to 8. Visit www.king-cat.net for more information.
Sat., July 19, 5 p.m., 2008

 
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