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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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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 GoldsmithSee all Editorial Reviews