From Publishers Weekly
The second volume of Martinson's semiautobiographical look at an American English teacher adjusting to life in rural Japan finds his protagonist Dan Wells trying to break out of his social isolation, and forming some relationships that aren't particularly good for him: a crush on one expatriate (she's not interested in him), an uneasy friendship with another one (he's kind of sleazy and kind of a mooch), and a sexual liaison with a Japanese teacher (whose feelings for him he doesn't really reciprocate). But what else is he to do? The undercurrent of the book is the crushing slowness of smalltown life and the way cultural clashes redouble Dan's boredom, frustration, and isolation. The distinctive look of Martinson's black-and-white artwork--four borderless panels on each page, fanatically cross-hatched backgrounds behind characters drawn as broad caricatures with a few bold lines, typeset dialogue--owes a lot to Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder's Goodman Beaver. But Martinson's breed of humor is less broad satire than a darker comedy of embarrassment: awkward silences, tedious karaoke, the frustration of trying to find a socially appropriate Secret Santa present, the wince of a one-night stand offering Dan her business card, Dan's growing sense that nothing he does will let him fit in with any community. (Dec.)
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Ivy League grad Dan Wells’ alienation during his time teaching English in Japan was shown in 2008’s Part One as it related to his status as a foreigner. Here, Dan continues to feel alienated but now it is from the acquaintances he has made, including a few young women and another man. Dan is self-effacing and quiet, in contrast to the other men he meets, and he borders on the melancholy. Martinson does an excellent job of showing Dan’s personal world as it becomes increasingly cramped and the winter skies turn dark, but this graphic-novel roman à clef stretches beyond his individual experiences to offer insight into the broader effects of trying to find oneself by going far from home and the known. A good crossover title for those who have had similar experiences to Dan’s in their youth or for the many young adults who may be pondering the foreign-teaching route as a way to see the world, though readers should begin with the first book to get the full benefit of Dan’s story. --Francisca Goldsmith