Scott's Reviews > Shortcomings

Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine
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Jul 24, 12

Read in July, 2012

This book could have been called Gut Punch because that's how I felt when I finished it. I felt what the main character felt. Then I reread it, looking for the clues that perhaps we both missed along the way as if to save ourselves this time. I can't remember the last time a book or movie had this kind of emotional impact. The main character Ben is kind of an asshole but an asshole that many males can empathize with, if not vocally, then internally. He's got his flaws and doesn't quite realize it or at least not soon enough. He and his girlfriend are at a low point in their long-term relationship. In many ways, they are just too honest with each other and perhaps too honest with us, which is why I was engrossed in this book. I am generally not interested in Asian identity stories. As a grown, married half-Korean father, I'm at the point where I've been there and done that. My self-discovery and self-defining phase have come full circle. Yet, I still found Ben's tactless hypocrisy refreshing in its honesty (as well as the author's). The book asks a lot of questions and points out a lot of hypocrisies among its characters but doesn't bullshit or insult you with faux truisms or moral conclusions. It is also quite funny, sometimes crass, thank gods. The art, while minimal, is surprisingly informative in its subtlety and even sexuality at times.

This is an excellent example of graphic novels at their finest. You can read through it in one afternoon, then go back and reread it more slowly, examining and admiring the artwork, picking up more information and detail you missed the first time as the story itself swept you away.
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