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Sleepwalk and Other Stories

(Optic Nerve #1-4)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  5,137 ratings  ·  236 reviews
Collecting the first four issues of Adrian Tomine's acclaimed comic series optic nerve, this book offers sixteen concise, haunting tales of modern life. The characters here appear to be well-adjusted on the surface, but Tomine takes us deeper into their lives, subtly examining their struggle to connect with friends and lovers.
Paperback, 102 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published 1997)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,137 ratings  ·  236 reviews

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Greta G
"A wave of sadness came over me as I switched off the light...I really wondered if I was going to miss anything or anybody at all while I was away."

Subtle, bittersweet stories about loneliness, alienation, confusion, longing to belong, friendship and love and the loss of it.
Emotionally absorbing and evocative, yet I couldn't quite identify with so much desperation.
I closed Adrian Tomine's Sleepwalk and Other Stories feeling depressed, something in Tomine's negativity, his view of the disconnect inherent in the relationships between his characters and contemporary life filled me with a (temporary, I hope) despair. These short graphic stories are deeply unsettling, there is no hope, no grand resolutions. Sleepwalk doesn't wallow in the angst of the various situations presented, but is resigned to an elementary bleakness.

Sleepwalk again proves that Tomine's
Tom LA
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
Whoa, this Tomine guy is such a pleasure to listen to! As pleasant as a finger in your eye.

Get ready for a cold, slimy shower of negativity, page after page.

If these stories were short films, they would sweep the board at the Cannes festival (note: this is the exact opposite of a compliment).

I’ve never understood the pleasure that people get from listening, reading or watching deeply depressing and totally pointless stories.

Matter of tastes. Sure. But for me, it’s “Get away from me, Tomine”.
Andrés Santiago
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, short-stories
Tomine is a master of the short story. This is my favourite collection of his. It is at times sweet, sad, sinister, funny, tender, horrible... well... that's life, isn't it? ...more
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
I found this book incredibly inspiring!

Tomine takes everyday mundane scenarios and turns them on their heads. He focuses on the breakdown of relationships, the socially awkward and the unpleasant side of catching public transport (I'm thinking of Hostage Situation).

There is something fundamentally poignant in all of the stories collected here and often leaves you taking a step back and attempting to assess the bigger picture or the wider message Tomine wants us to take away from his work.

I hav
Eric T. Voigt
A bunch of slice-of-life style stories that don't go anywhere satisfying. The ultimate in dejected anti-social asshole rambling. You'd think I could relate to these depressive pessimists but they were too self-harmed and there isn't a shred of humor to be found. All these characters are rotting logs without a thriving ecosystem willing to survive in their pity stank. So much pretentious imagery, so little to keep me interested. Excellent art, though. ...more
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: of-comics
My favourite Tomine, the first of Tomine.
If you don't know Tomine, start here.

*plotless review, avoid looking elsewhere as blurbs about short stories tend unsurprisingly to spoil the plot of short stories*

Tomine's Optic Nerve Series:
#1-4 = Sleepwalk (sad and longing)
#5-8 = Summer Blonde (apathetic and jaded)
#9-11 = Shortcomings (jealous and frustrated)
#12-14 = Killing & Dying (realistic and fairly balanced)

On Sleepwalk:
For once, longer comic strips aren't always as good as shorter ones. For onc

Oct 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Dejection, Rejection, social awkwardness, desperation, self deprecating humor, surreal conversations and self pity everywhere. There is no shred of hope, happiness or remotely bittersweet.

This slice of life is just...cloudy sky.
Mateen Mahboubi
Jun 07, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm always a bit uncomfortable with the way 90s Tomine wrote women, especially with their relationships with the sad sack men that Tomine writes about. For some reason in this volume it got to me more. I enjoyed it less than his later stuff and even 32 Stories I connected with a bit better. ...more
Shana Watkins
Aug 17, 2007 rated it liked it
"I just wanted the Fourth of July to be over. I wished it was a normal day, where it didn't matter what you did." from "Fourth of July", Sleepwalk

I have to give credit to Jeremy Estes for lending me this book of illustrated vignettes, and to turning me on to "comics" in general.

Upon reading the conclusion of the first - eponymous - story in Sleepwalk my initial response was, "So what?" And I had the same response to the next story...and the next.

Then I realized, 'Hang on, I'm actually enjoying
Kyle Berk
Sleepwalk and Other Stories is an amazing collection. It contains a bunch of stories. Some of them are a page and others up to twenty I think.

My personal favorite being Lunch Break. But all the stories are the kind of stories that really gel with me. They’re very intimate stories about the narrators who tell them. They fully utilize the comic medium intertwining the visual aspect with dialogue.

This is a small collection that I wouldn’t know about if I didn’t find it in a bargain bin at a comicon
Abeer Abdullah
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
despite my desperate desires to get my self to be, I am not an avid reader of graphic novels.
so I will approach this as a work of literature, short stories to be exact.
I always admire, revere and prefer minimalistic approach for many reasons most of which that it takes great talent to project so much
through a relatively small opening. and mostly because our lives are almost always extremely minimal. sadness that is daily and utterly ordinary is often heartbreaking.
this book (and its author) has
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this - basically a bunch of off-beat, graphic short stories; great for quick reading on the bus or train. I feel motivated to read all of Adrian Tomine's work after this. ...more
Shay Mcallister
Feb 21, 2009 rated it did not like it
This is the second graphic novel by Adrian Tomine I've read, at my boyfriend's urging. I've come to the conclusion that I don't like Tomine's stuff. There is nothing positive or uplifting - it's always about couples breaking up, someone loving someone else who couldn't give a shit, or other stories of messed up people and/or their bleak lives. I'll take a pass next time. ...more
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
I kind of want my money back. Talk about mundane, nothing happens at all in any of these stories. The cover looks nice, though.
Owen Townend
Sep 23, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm afraid I didn't quite enjoy this comic collection as much as Killing and Dying. I would say this is because there was so much more despondency.

Despondency can of course make for gripping drama but I couldn't help but feel beat down by the endings of most of these stories. They are perhaps too familiar to my own life and outlook sometimes and were generally without a message of comfort. Tomine's similarity to the likes of Daniel Clowes becomes very apparent in Sleepwalk, which is to say that
Jo Cameron-Symes
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the second of Adrian Tomine's books that I have read and I prefer it to Killing and Dying.

What first attracted me was the stark cover and description which I thought looked like a modern take on an Edward Hopper painting. After reading this collection however, what it most reminded me of was one of my favourite short story collections; Richard Yates,' 'Eleven Kinds of Loneliness.' Largely because Tomine's characters were often portrayed as being lonely in the city, as Yates characters o
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this book is a collection of unnerving short stories in graphic novel format. if you're looking for something with a clever twist or a satisfying ending - this isn't it. but all the stories are very haunting and interesting and fit together well despite there being no thread between any of them. i was going to end this review by picking a favourite short story out of them, but i really can't decide. they're all interesting for different reasons. although i will say my least favourite was probabl ...more
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This collection of short stories proves there is beauty in the mundane. Everyone has a story to tell and
Everyone can find pieces of themselves in one or more of these stories. Everyday life is evolving poetry.
Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Sad people. Sad situations. Endings that aren't really endings...

What could be more fun?!?! :) :) :)
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a painfully sad collection. Tomine is a master of framing his narratives and doling out bits of information to the audience.
Jan 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
It's a dark collection of short stories that leave you wanting so much more. Some of the stories end so abruptly that they tug you back into the story with an even fiercer force. Layover, Dylan & Donovan, Long Distance and Drop were my absolute favorites. Even Pink Frosting and The Connecting Thread were wonderfully weird. Tomine has a very keen eye for details and it really shows through in the panels. It's a quick 1-2 hours worth of read but an absolute delight.

A quick note: I'm drawn to dark
Nathanial Cook
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a re-read for me, but it had been a while. What great stuff! This work is in the middle of Tomine's output, bridging the gap from his early, rougher, often VERY short stories, to his issue-long tales from his Optic Nerve comic series.

These little slices of life - weird lives - are great. Cynical, noirish, sometimes a little hip, but always with a sly eye towards its hipster protags ... the tales feel like things that really happened to someone. I tend to like ambiguous endings, and Tomi
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
"Sleepwalking" is a collection of sixteen separate stories written and drawn by Adrian Tomine. Each story is different, but there is a constant in the theme of isolation, desperation, and loneliness in each story. In “Lunchtime”, a little old lady packs her lunch and eats it while sitting in her parked car, remembering better days. In “Supermarket”, a grocery store worker is helpful and chipper to a blind customer, but when she sees him later on the street, her actions are different.

Each of thes
May 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: readfromlibrary
Adrian Tomine is my favorite graphic novelist. His stories are simple and compelling sketches of the life of young people. Each story is very focused: you connect with a character immediately, events flow at an even clip, and the end is always unsettling. I really enjoy writers that are not afraid to create unlikable characters and unresolvable conflict and set the reader in the middle to observe. It's like real life with pretty pictures that you can put down and walk away from when it gets too ...more
May 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Tomine's collected comics, Sleepwalk: and Other Stories is a wonderful way to introduce yourself to this talented artist and storyteller. The stories in here are easy to relate to, especially if you've ever been in a relationship and have dealt with the awkwardness after that relationship's demise. These tales are very human, rich in the subtle nuances that punctuate our lives every day. It's wonderful work, and I think it's about time I pick up the other book of his I own, Shortcomings. ...more
Jerome K
Aug 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
A friend recommended Adrian Tomine long ago and I've fallen in love with his work since. Some people scoff at the idea of "adult comics" but it's a genre worth a deeper look. Tomine's work is definitely up there and Sleepwalk contains some of his best stuff. There's this sense of dread in Tomine's work, not as heavy as Daniel Clowes's stuff, but it's enough to give Tomine's comics that unsettling edge, which I like. ...more
Jackson Nieuwland
Sep 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
These stories start brilliantly, developing strong characters, contexts, and conflicts. Unfortunately most of the stories falter at their endings, leaving things unresolved and me unfulfilled.
The one glowing exception to this is Lunch Break. It is one of the shortest stories in the book and has a beautiful three part structure. It will stick with me for a long time. Characters from the other stories with stick with me but the entirety of Lunch Break is held in my mind, perfect
May 20, 2008 rated it liked it
My friend recently recommended this book to me. It was a quick read but definitely stays with you for awhile. The short stories are easily relatable to but leave you with a sense of void. Relationships from all across the board are addressed: between strangers, lovers, family members. This work will put you in a thoughtful, but sullen mood.
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ADRIAN TOMINE was born in 1974 in Sacramento, California. He began self-publishing his comic book series Optic Nerve. His comics have been anthologized in publications such as McSweeney’s, Best American Comics, and Best American Nonrequired Reading, and his graphic novel "Shortcomings" was a New York Times Notable Book of 2007. His next release, "Killing and Dying" will be published by Drawn and Q ...more

Other books in the series

Optic Nerve (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • Optic Nerve #1
  • Optic Nerve #2
  • Optic Nerve #3
  • Optic Nerve #4
  • Optic Nerve #5
  • Optic Nerve #6
  • Optic Nerve #7
  • Optic Nerve #8
  • Optic Nerve #9
  • Optic Nerve #10

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