Sep 15, 2009

SUMMER BLONDE by Adrian Tomine

Posted by Noam Ash

Tomine constructs tales of emotional disconnection with an ear for painfully real dialogue. The conflicts between emotional gratification, narcissistic neediness and moral discernment mark the title story in which a socially crippled man nurses an obsessive crush on a young woman. He watches close up, paralyzed by his guilt, as her beauty catches the eye of his neighbor: a hip, selfish young man with a short attention span. `Hawaiian Getaway` features Hilary, a telephone service rep who is having the worst week of her life. Reaching out to random strangers on the phone, Hilary is looking for someone to help her. In 'Alter Ego' a successful young author has writer`s block. He can`t, or won`t, decide between another ghostwriting gig and finishing his second ‘real’ novel. He stalls on committing to his novel and his girlfriend when a chance postcard leads him to flirt with fantasies of changing the past. Finally, 'Bomb Scare' documents the early unease of his generation by setting this coming-of-age story during the tense months of the Gulf War, the event that ushered in the 1990s.

Tomine infuses tender moments and a heavy dose of realism into the graphic novel genre. The people in the book may at times be flat, but they're not boring. They're the typical freaks and geeks we meet in high school and adulthood, they all have their issues and they try to deal with them as best they can. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. What's important is that we can relate to these characters. They're the weird kid you saw sitting next to you in homeroom or the creepy old guy on the bus. The book is a compelling work of fiction that serves to remind us that everyone is just a little bit messed up.

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