Jun 122012

We Learn Nothing by Tim Krieder

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Free Press (June 12, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1439198705
ISBN-13: 978-1439198704

In We Learn Nothing, satirical cartoonist Tim Kreider turns his funny, brutally honest eye to the dark truths of the human condition, asking big questions about human-sized problems: What if you survive a brush with death and it doesn’t change you? Why do we fall in love with people we don’t even like? What do you do when a friend becomes obsessed with a political movement and won’t let you ignore it? How do you react when someone you’ve known for years unexpectedly changes genders?
Irreverent yet earnest, he shares deeply personal experiences and readily confesses his vices— betraying his addiction to lovesickness, for example, and the gray area that he sees between the bold romantic gesture and the illegal act of stalking.

In these pages, we witness Kreider’s tight-knit crew struggle to deal with a pathologically lying friend who won’t ask for help. We watch him navigate a fraught relationship with a lonely uncle in jail who—as he degenerates into madness— continues to plead for the support of his conflicted nephew. And we cringe as he gets outed as a “moby” at a Tea Party rally. In moments like these, we can’t help but ask ourselves: How far would we go for our own family members, and when is someone simply too far gone to save? Are there truly “bad people,” and if so, should we change them? With a perfect combination of humor and pathos, these essays, peppered with Kreider’s signature cartoons, leave us with newfound wisdom and a unique prism through which to examine our own chaotic journeys through life.

Uncompromisingly candid, sometimes mercilessly so, these comically illustrated essays are rigorous exercises in self-awareness and self-reflection. These are the conversations you have only with best friends or total strangers, late at night over drinks, near closing time.

If you like your stories with a lot of offbeat humor, you’ll like this book. It’s a quick read at only a few hours, and the drawings are a plus.

This book was different than what I usually read (it was a little rough at times), but after the last few books I’ve read it was nice to read something that made me laugh.

About The Author:
Tim Kreider was born and educated in Baltimore, Maryland. His cartoon The Pain — When Will It End? ran in the Baltimore City Paper from 1997 to 2009 and also appeared in The New York Press, The Stranger, Philadelphia Weekly and other alternative weeklies. Fantagraphics has published three collections of his work, The Pain — When Will It End? (2005), Why Do They Kill Me? (2006), and Twilight of the Assholes (2011).

He was featured in Ted Rall’s anthology Attitude 2: The New Subversive Alternative Cartoonists (2004). His essays have appeared in The New York Times, Film Quarterly, and The Comics Journal, and have been frequently anthologized.

Tim Kreider has been stabbed in the throat in Crete, ridden the Ringling Brothers circus train to Mexico City, addressed the Forum on Outer Planetary Exploration 2000-2020 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Institute in Houston, attended a friend’s gender reassignment surgery in Wisconsin, and appeared on ABC’s Nightline and World News Online in futile defense of the late planet Pluto.

He divides his time between a turret in New York City and an undisclosed location on the Chesapeake Bay.


Thanks to Meagan @ Simon & Schuster for this review copy

  9 Responses to “We Learn Nothing by Tim Krieder”

  1. Hi Vicki,

    Although this probably isn’t a book that I would read, I think that the title is brilliant and oh! so true.

    You only have to look at us as a collective society to see that we change very little over time, we just keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

    Things seem to pretty much follow the same course in our individual lives as well (at least it does in my own personal case) and my husband is fond of saying “If you keep doing the same thing, you will keep getting the same results!” An obvious statement to make, but so difficult to change one’s habits.

    I am glad that you enjoyed the book and thanks for sharing those lines,


  2. This does sound fun! I’m guessing it’s crude at times – I can live with that as long as it’s not overdone.

  3. Sounds like a book that tackles interesting questions and gives you a lot to think about.

  4. This looks like something I’d enjoy. I’ll need to seek it out. Thanks for the review.

  5. I should pick this one up for my husband. I bet he’d like it and short reads are about all he has time for,

  6. Any book that makes you laugh out laugh is a great read (in my opinion).

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