- Unknown Binding
- Publisher: Pantheon Books- (April 30, 2011)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B004XTKRXY
- Average Customer Review: 27 customer reviews
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MISTER WONDERFUL: A LOVE STORY (HARDCOVER)
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The story has been reworked slightly -- each large NYT page has been broken into two shorter, wider pages, to pad the length up to something that can be called a book -- and there are some other changes as well, but it's still the same, just told in a slightly different form. (And it's also a story very similar to Clowes's last standalone graphic novel, Wilson.)
Marshall is a middle-aged sad sack, divorced, lonely, nearly broke and with no real hopes of getting any better. He narrates this story -- intensively narrates it, in a caption-filled style very out of fashion in most of mainstream comics, which shoves us directly into his head and holds us there, hostage perhaps, until the end of the book. Marshall isn't great company, unfortunately -- he's obsessive about his own shortcomings, and self-flagellation is only interesting for so long.
MISTER WONDERFUL is the story of one day in Marshall's life -- one night, really -- starting with a blind date, and continuing on from there. Marshall's been set up with Natalie by mutual friends, and Natalie is probably just as damaged as Marshall is, in her own ways -- but we only see her through Marshall's eyes, and only see her when Marshall gets out of the way, which is hardly ever. So MISTER WONDERFUL is primarily a tour through Marshall's psyche, with short stops along the way to take in some real-life events that illustrate that his poor self-image is well rooted in his actual competencies.
It doesn't have the satirical edge of Clowes's earlier work -- Clowes wants us to identify with Marshall and care about him. (MISTER WONDERFUL is most like a work by a slightly more friendly, and less formalist, Chris Ware.) But Marshall is undeniably tedious and suffocating -- though he is nowhere near as horrible as the "hero" of Clowes's WILSON was, so he does have that to (very slightly) recommend him. Clowes can create characters that are damaged, self-obsessed, and fascinating -- recall Enid and Rebecca from Ghost World -- but, these days, he's tending to leave off "fascinating," which is unfortunate.
Looking forward to better.
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