Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Andre the Giant: Life and Legend

"Are there rocks ahead?"
"If there are, we'll all be dead!"
"No more rhymes now, I mean it!
"Anybody want a peanut?"

Andre the Giant was a definitive part of my childhood, if only through The Princess Bride (my poor husband still doesn't get why I love the movie so much...and he hadn't seen it til we were engaged...sad buckets!)  I was never big into wrestling, but my uncle collected plastic figurines of Hulk Hogan and the I'm sure he was in there somewhere.

Box Brown's fantastic graphic novel Andre the Giant: Life and Legend gives a glimpse into Andre's sad, sometimes angry, but still amazing, life.  

Andre Roussimoff was a pretty normal guy...except he ended up being almost 7 1/2 feet tall, and weighed 600 pounds.  This book looks at Andre's life- his rise to wrestling fame, his immortalized performance in The Princess Bride, and the situations that resulted because of his size.

This is such a well-done biography.  For those who only know Andre as Fezzik, it was great to learn about his wrestling career.  Those who are fans of wrestling will appreciate the stories, and the history of the WWF, Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, etc.  Actually, it's interesting to those who don't have a real tie to wrestling, too.  Just reading about his on-the-road stories...craziness ensues.

The novel explains wrestling terms, and really puts in perspective the "good old days"- teens will be interested in large sporting events before pay-per-view.  Like, bars would charge a fee and people could watch there, or small theaters would be rented out to broadcast the event.

Looking also at the struggles he had because of his size.  Emotional AND medical...some of the situations he had were incredibly sad; but! some were also amazing, charming.  The brief look at The Princess Bride took me back to an episode of Biography, where I'd heard some of those stories told by Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin.  Seeing how the man handled a flight from Japan to the US, being unable to fit into the tiny, airplane restroom...riveting.

Done in black and white, the pictures are simple, but tell Andre's story well.  It's crazy how a couple of pen-strokes can convey so much emotion.

There are some adult themes, situations, language, humor...but look at the world he was living in!  I would say probably best for 13+...maybe older...parental call on that one.  That said, it all has a point...I mean, it's the guy's life!

This is one that could definitely bring in your reluctant readers, and your "guys"- I've lost count of how many times I've been asked for books on pro wrestling by my kiddo patrons. 

Crazy good biography about a man who was larger than life.

Andre the Giant: Life and Legend is published by :01 First Second.  Review copy graciously provided by the publisher.
Release Date: 05.06.2014

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