I think over the next six to twelve months we’re going to be seeing more of this kind of thing, diaries detailing the events of 2020 and the personal impact they’ve had upon the authors, or self-help books designed around surviving 2021 because, and let’s be brutally honest here, this is not going away any time soon, not until our governments and our populations can get their arses in gear and prioritise fighting it.
However, none of the books I imagine are going to come out are going to be anything like Vic Lee’s. This is because it’s not a “proper” diary, nor is it a graphic novel, despite being created using illustrations. You see, Lee is an artist who does a lot of murals and within the pages of his Corona Diary, he’s turned his skill at this kind of work into around 45 individual murals, all portioned out into double-page spreads. It’s a lovely looking thing (though the digital format in which I read my advanced copy didn’t do it any favours).
It’d be easy to write something morose, and though this journal only tells us the first six months of the year, during which things looked really, really bad and was genuinely terrifying, Lee still finds some room to insert some humour, I couldn’t help squirting coffee out of my nostrils when I read the phrase “Bojo Blaggins”, though he’s possibly ruined my next viewing of the Lord of the Rings movies.
Lee also opens by saying he’s tried to avoid inserting his own politics into the book, though this is something I think, ultimately, is impossible to do in the circumstances, it’s clear what he thinks of the likes of Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and those who refuse to adhere to easy to follow guidelines such as “wear a mask”, but he does go to great effort to try and only report on the facts when discussing the world at large, whilst insert small anecdotes of his time in lockdown (including him repainting his bathroom).
Personally speaking, I’d have liked this to have been held off a little longer and cover the whole year and our battle with COVID-19, but I do hope we will get a second book, as this is an excellent and beautifully put together insight into January – June of 2020.