excerpt from Night Bus by Zuo Ma

A dreamlike tale: Night Bus reviewed in London Free Press

BROWN: Dreamlike tale unfolds at a slow pace, which is its pleasure

London Free Press    |    Dan Brown    |    September 17, 2021

Despite it being a hefty tome, I was able to breeze through its more than 400 pages in a single setting.

So if you are in the market for an imaginative late-summer diversion, I think you’ll find it engrossing, as I did.

The word that sprang immediately to mind when I began reading Night Bus was “languorous.” There’s no rush toward a conclusion, and no clear line separating dreams from reality.

It reminds me of the Richard Linklater film Waking Life. But instead of characters becoming unmoored from gravity and floating upward, Ma has populated this book with such startling images as the one on Page 84, where a giant fish sits in a recliner applying its fin to a remote control in order to watch television.

There’s also a cat wearing a hoodie while drawing on a sketchpad, and a creature — maybe a dragon — with an entire town resting on its back. At one point, an awakened sleeper writes in his journal, “My life is bleeding into my dreams.”

Ultimately, Night Bus becomes a graphic novel about its own creation. “I’m making it up as I go along. There’s no predetermined story arc,” a cartoonist character says about 100 pages in, which prepares the reader for what follows — a narrative that seems to be struggling to resolve itself, but finally not caring that it escapes categorization.

If you’ve ever read Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women, you’ll have somewhat of an idea of the story’s structure. Is it a series of short stories or is it a novel? Night Bus is both, yet also neither.

If you’re looking for easy answers, this isn’t the comic for you.


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