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In the Flesh: Stories Paperback – February 3, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his debut collection of graphic short stories, Israel-born Shadmi tries to have the last word in sexual malevolence in angst-ridden tales of couplings that go horrendously awry. Alienation reigns in pieces like The Fun Lawn, where a man with an underage online porn habit who works in a giant dog suit on a children's TV show is flummoxed when a beautiful young woman comes on to him, but may just like him for the dog suit. Most of the more effective stories go straight for David Cronenberg–style issues of bodily invasion, such as Radioactive Girlfriend, in which a man's proximity to his lover proves potentially fatal. Surrealist pieces like Pastry Paradise and A Lavish Affair not so subtly conflate issues of sexual desire, hunger and disgust to fairly little effect. The more simply constructed stories tend to have more punch, like What Is Wrong with Me? which humorously contrasts what happens after a late-night hookup separates in the morning; the man pines in agonized love while the woman ignores his calls and watches TV. Shadmi's art is expressive and simple, focusing on entwined limbs and eyes pinned open with worry, but it's his sharp writing (shades of Etgar Keret's violent whimsy) that really brings this collection together. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

Israeli American Shadmi’s 10 stories mostly feature young men and women, though some characters are as young as preadolescent, and a few are middle-aged or older. In more than half the stories, faces and even heads are disguised by elaborate masks or plain paper bags. This isn’t incidental to what they’re about, which is sometimes ennui (“A Date”) and occasionally kinky (“Fun Lawn”) or ominous (“Grandpa Minolta”). One story of a lover and his muse, who is seen on a large screen as he tries and fails to paint below her running monologue, has a nearly perfect musical quality, while “Radioactive Girlfriend” twists together the personal and the political. “Pastry” is a nightmare riff on consumption, of books as well as food. The black-and-white artwork is realistic, as are the scenes of clinching but not those of the headless date in “Antoinette.” The figures express as much with posture as with their sometimes cutting, sometimes purposefully miserly utterances. Good stuff, especially if you like Kafka or comics creators Rutu Modan and Mark Murphy. --Francisca Goldsmith

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; Original edition (February 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345508718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345508713
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #273,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Kramer Bussel VINE VOICE on March 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
The first word that comes to mind when thinking of In The Flesh is "twisted." These stories start off making the reader think that they might be sexy, might be something to spark the erotic imagination, and just when they start to, boom! Something happens that makes you reconsider what exactly is going on in the story. What could be the familiar when it comes to dating is turned on its head, literally, by characters without heads, who are radioactive, who are alien in some way. There's a growing sense of dread, of caution, of uncertainty that Shadmi masters perfectly.

These stories and their accompanying images will stop you in your tracks, make you look again, to be certain that you just saw what you think you saw. From the title, I was expecting one thing, and what I got was completely different, yet I wasn't disappointed in the least, but rather fascinated at the bizarre twists and turns the stories, and Shadmi's art and creativity, took. Don't go into In The Flesh with any expectations, but rather open it to find a world where nothing is at is seems, and characters have to react to madness as if it were normal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Flores on June 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Of the sundry graphic novels I've read in the past year during my rediscovery of illustrated writing, this is the first that I can definitely say I'll be reading again. Urban, hip, funny, outre, surreal, poignant, sad . . . many of the men, bearing a physical resemblance to the author's self-portrait, are sensitive (needy?) intellectuals involved with girls of apparent Jewish beauty. Of course, there' more to this collection than that, accurately conveyed by the Publisher's Weekly and Booklist reviews. Visually, I really enjoyed the black and white art, the clean style, and some creative paneling, especially when characters are depicted multiple times in a larger spread, creating multiple moments in one visual space.
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By J. Reu on June 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
If you just flip through this book, you might be shocked at some of the scenes. Yes, taken out of context, some of the images are offensive. However, when you read the book, it works. These are stories aimed for adults that talk about the harsher sides of love and passion. Some of the stories were poignant, but almost all of them got me thinking more about the meaning of love, lust, passion and relationships.
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