Let’s face it: We’ve all had that conversation (possibly in a bar) about what we would change in our own lives if we could got back in time. Sometimes the regrets are big; sometimes they’re little. It’s always a fun thing to talk about, but I think we rarely think about what would actually change if this was possible.
Jess Fink‘s We Can Fix It (Top Shelf, 2013) is subtitled “A Time Travel Memoir” and she focuses on this very premise. The time-travel motif provides a creative frame for her to revisit various events and people in her life.
Initially, while hopping through time, she’s mostly checking in on her teenage and college-age self, both to aid and prevent (and sometimes observe!) various sexual encounters. However, that wears thin pretty quickly and she wonders what other lessons she can offer to her past self. She drops in on herself in middle school and even younger and begins to realize the way she remembers the past wasn’t how it always happened.
Fink’s art has a curvy sweetness that always keeps the book playful. Despite many comments about future Fink’s awesome jumpsuit (which it is!), that’s really the only sci-fi touch. Mostly, Fink’s soft lines and gray washes render scenes from the early ’90s and beyond with a kind nostalgia. I greatly admire Fink’s ever-changing hairstyles and fashionable flair throughout the ages. The affection she has for her younger self clearly comes through in her drawing. Fink is adorable at all ages.
It’s a wickedly funny book with just enough touches of vulgar and gross-out humor. It works here, though, since this is all about being in Fink’s head and her unguarded honesty is a delight. While sex and sexuality initially drives the story, it quickly becomes about so much more. It’s absolutely as touching as it is profane. It feels delightfully human.
And in the end, that’s the point of this journey. The more often Fink visits and chats with earlier versions of herself (and often brings them along in her journey), the more she realizes that that she can’t fix the past because it doesn’t really need to be fixed. All her experiences — the good, the bad, the confusing — made her into the person she is today. It’s a kind-hearted and beautiful reflection on an imperfect life.