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AEIOU: Any Easy Intimacy Paperback – June 28, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Apparently, one of the side effects of dating Brown is that he draws a comics memoir about you afterwards. This work, originally published in a limited edition, is Brown's follow-up to his previous dating books Clumsy and Unlikely, and documents the author's relationship with his third girlfriend (a co-worker at a video store) in detail, dredging up some emotionally loaded details. Like those other works, it's drawn in a deceptively low-key, dashed-off-looking way, with one or two little square panels on each page; and it again focuses on the banalities of predate small talk, mid-relationship kidding around and angsty postcoital chatter. Brown and Sophia hang out, have sex, break up, talk on the phone about their relationship, get back together, break up again, make out, argue, etc. There's no plot and no resolution, just a series of snapshots of the moments of intimacy that stick in a lover's memory. Brown draws beautifully—offhand-looking doodles have a magisterial sureness. There are a couple of fine set pieces, too, especially a section called "The Long Pause Before a First Kiss." Ultimately, though, Brown adds little to his previous observations on relationships. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The misbegotten relationships that Brown began recounting in his graphic-novel debut,Clumsy (2003), and continued chronicling in Unlikely (2003), just flow on. Like its predecessors, his relationship here seems doomed from the start. Needy, awkward Jeff is tragically drawn to troubled young women like Sophia, who comes with sexual hang-ups and is a cutter, to boot ("I just don't believe in my heart of hearts that sex with you isn't just another form of self laceration," she tells Jeff--in bed). Again, Brown tells the story in a series of brief scenes of the couple on the phone, having sex, chatting in bed, preparing meals, and hanging out. AEIOU differs from its forebears in that the couple remains together at the end (an author's note indicates that the inevitable breakup has since occurred). Brown's shaky, awkward drawing style seems to spring directly from the shy, tentative character of the Jeff of the strips, with whose sensitivity one sympathizes while wanting, nevertheless, to hear one of his girlfriends tell her side of the story. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
"AEIOU" was painful for me to read, and I think it is because it is showing me absolutely NOTHING new. It's silly things that are played off as "cute" and "spontaneous" that just read as dull and contrived. Where the stories in "Clumsy" were drawn shortly after they happened, the stories in "AEIOU" feel like they were drawn in a lump when it was time for Jeffrey to write a new book. So he returned to the old formula and finally wore it out. It's a drag not being able to empathize with a character that you've empathized with a few times before. In this book, Jeffrey Brown does nothing but be abused by some new girl. It's almost embarassing that he just didn't keep this story to himself, and the fact that he thought it warranted an entire book is frustrating. Or maybe Top Shelf was breathing down his neck and he just churned it out to make them happy.
Fortunately, I think he said this was the last in his trilogy of break-up stories which is a relief. Jeffrey Brown was the one who got me into comics, and I honestly think that "Clumsy" should be read by anyone and everyone. Also check out "Unlikely," his superhero homage/parody "Bighead," and his mini comics, which are pretty great too.
It is definitely a book that everyone can relate to, although I couldn't help but feel like it could've been more finished.
I enjoyed it. It was a quick read. It will make you feel like you and those close to you are a little closer to "normal."
Nothing stands out as "WOW" "Oh my" "Boom" or I learned ...this from the book, but it was an entertaining peek into the window of two other peoples lives and their relationship.
So, it's with no small surprise that I will now saw I really enjoyed ANY EASY INTIMACY. The emotion of this book clicked with me in ways I would have never expected. Brown tells a disjointed, autobiographical story of his relationship with Sophie, a somewhat neurotic graduate student. It's a warts-and-all confession, chronicling their ups and downs as a couple. With no substantial outside narration, there is no blame dropped at anyone's feet, only the reader's reaction to the characters' actions. One feels for Brown as he is repeatedly jerked around, but we also grow frustrated with his often inappropriate responses. Which isn't to say ANY EASY INTIMACY is some kind of downer. Things are good for the bulk of the book as Brown lovingly details the pair's idiosyncrasies and how their relationship is defined by the way those quirks fit together. It's romantic in its own odd way.
There were still hurdles to my enjoying this graphic novel. The art is just as woefully inadequate as I remembered, and it took me about a quarter of the book to get past the "sketchbook diaries" style. Even after I did, I groaned at some of the cloying sweetness of the moments Brown chose to show, which reminded me of cartoon diary pioneer James Kochalka's hamfisted strips about love. Yet, I kept feeling compelled to turn the page, and as the story grew more honest, I grew consistently more involved. There's a real heart that any quibbles about craft can't cover up.
Regardless of whether or not you liked Jeffrey Brown before--and let's be honest, those of us who didn't may never click with any of his future work, either--ANY EASY INTIMACY is a book that deserves your attention. While its rawness may initially be this comic book's biggest stumbling block, it will ultimately prove to be its greatest reward.