Review: Daytripper, by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá

>>Published: February 2011

>>Finally got around to it: Immediately–as it should be with a book this good

My name is Brás de Oliva Domingos.

This is the story of my life.

Take a deep breath, open your eyes and close the book.

***

We must die in order to prove we were ever alive.

This is the abstract to Moon and Bá’s utterly beautiful, moving, soul-rumbling work of art, Daytripper. For ten impeccably illustrated chapters, Daytripper gives us a life collected in snapshots—emotionally stunning vignettes punctuated by death. It is an examination of the meaning life has, and can have, only when viewed through the scope of mortality.

Brás de Oliva Domingos is a writer, a dreamer, and a man who does not know how to define his own life. He struggles with the curses and passions he inherited from his father, of which, he comes to realize, are one and the same. He dreams of writing, of changing the world through literature, and finds himself instead giving solace to the families of loved ones left behind as an obituary writer.

Each chapter is another day, or another week at a different point on the non-linear thread of Brás’ life, and each chapter ends the same way–with his death. But death is never the end for Brás. Death is understanding. Death opens his eyes, shows him his worth, his place in the world, through the eyes of those he loves, and those who will miss him the most. Through his many postcard existences, Brás loses his life to love found and love lost; he sacrifices himself to save a friend; he gives in to weaknesses of the body he never knew he had, but were remnants of a shadow he could not escape. Everything Brás ever was, ever would be, ever could be, exists in the moments where and when and how his life comes to an end. But never are these deaths more relevant, more impactful, than in the understanding that all these lives and all these deaths serve to illustrate only one thing:

The only way to live life is to live without fear.

Fear of love. Fear of accomplishment. Fear of failure. All must be left behind, shed and left on the ground like the skin of a snake.

Because there is a final chapter to each and every book. Without that chapter, without those final pages, paragraphs and sentences, nothing that comes before it has any meaning.

Brás dies, has died, and will die repeatedly to become the man he’s meant to be, to experience the love and happiness and success that he is due. And through these many deaths, parsed from more obituaries than any one person can have, is an understanding of life’s value that few are capable of achieving.

There aren’t many books that have left me with a lump in my throat by the end. Daytripper is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a long time. As a meditation on life and the impact a life can have on those loved, lost and never forgotten, this book succeeds in every way.

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