Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Katie Beaton

This is one of the most unusual books I have ever read. That’s what drew me to it, and why I ultimately read it. It is a memoir told in comic form, sort of a non-fiction, biographical graphic novel. Sounds a bit absurd, but it really works.

The author is from the maritime provinces of Canada. She finishes college with a lot of debt. In order to liquidate that debt and start her life debt-free, she takes a lucrative job in the oil sands of western Canada. It is a desolate place dominated by men. Her experience is lonely and psychologically damaging. The book explores the intersection of this harsh world and someone driven to force her way through it due to crushing debt.

The author uses the format to great effect. It really communicates the feeling of being where she was and gives an inkling of what she experienced. Beaton describes the atmosphere as isolated and oppressive while also being understanding that not everyone was responsible for those feelings. It is a fantastic example of how good and bad can, and regularly do, exist at the same time in the same place and one person’s attempt to reconcile that contradiction.

My rating: 4/5

One thought on “Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Katie Beaton

  1. There are heaps of great autobio comics out there! A lot of the best have different ways in, too. Joe Sacco’s Palestine has a journalistic flare, as do his other works. Alec is Eddy Campbell’s autobio with all the names changed. Blankets, Persepolis, Fun Home, hell, even Maus is kind of autobio. If you liked Ducks, I would definitely recommend you continue down this rabbithole.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.