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Shortcomings Paperback – April 28, 2009
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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Amazon Significant Seven, November 2007: Adrian Tomine draws his mid-twenties slackers with an impeccable, exact line for every slumpy gesture and cultivated rumple. In Shortcomings, this ex-wunderkind tackles a book-length comic for the first time after three collections of stories, and his maturity shows not so much in the ages of his characters, who are still slackly wandering, dropping out of grad school or managing a movie theater, but in his calm and masterful handling of his story, in which vividly individual characters wander through the maze of imposed and self-generated stereotypes of Asian and American identities (the title is a wry allusion to one of the most enduring of those assumptions). Never has that old commonplace that the personal is the political seemed more paralyzing, and more true. --Tom Nissley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. SignatureReviewed by Junot DíazTomine's lacerating falling-out-of-love story is an irresistible gem of a graphic novel. Shortcomingsis set primarily in an almost otherworldly San Francisco Bay Area; its antihero, Ben Tanaka, is not your average comic book protagonist: he's crabby, negative, self-absorbed, über-critical, slack-a-riffic and for someone who is strenuously race-blind, has a pernicious hankering for whitegirls. His girlfriend Miko (alas and tragically) is an Asian-American community activist of the moderate variety. Ben is the sort of cat who walks into a Korean wedding and says, Man, look at all these Asians, while Miko programs Asian-American independent films and both are equally skilled in the underhanded art of fighting without fighting. As you might imagine, their relationship is in full decay. In Tomine's apt hands, Tanaka's heartbreaking descent into awareness is reading as good as you'll find anywhere. What a relief to find such unprecious intelligent dynamic young people of color wrestling with real issues that they can neither escape nor hope completely to understand.Tomine's no dummy: he keeps the issues secondary to his characters' messy humanity and gains incredible thematic resonance from this subordination. Tomine's dialogue is hilarious (he makes Seth Rogan seem a little forced), his secondary characters knockouts (Ben's Korean-American only friend Alice steals every scene she's in, and the Korean wedding they attend together as pretend-partners is a study in the even blending of tragedy and farce), and his dramatic instincts second-to-none. Besides orchestrating a gripping kick-ass story with people who feel like you've had the pleasure/misfortune of rooming with, Tomine does something far more valuable: almost incidentally and without visible effort (for such is the strength of a true artist) he explodes the tottering myth that love is blind and from its million phony fragments assembles a compelling meditation on the role of race in the romantic economy, dramatizing with evil clarity how we are both utterly blind and cannily hyperaware of the immense invisible power race exerts in shaping what we call desire. And that moment at the end when the whiteboy squares up against Ben, kung-fu style: I couldn't decide whether to fold over in laughter or to hug Ben or both. Tomine accomplishes in one panel of this graphic novel what so many writers have failed to do in entire books. In crisp spare lines, he captures in all its excruciating, disappointing absurdity a single moment and makes from it our world. (Oct.)Junot Díaz's first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, has just been published by Riverhead.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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One of my favorite realist graphic novels -- the entire thing just feels drawn from life.
Tomine has recreated a new and strange social dilemma of modern America.
He accurately explains (through his characters) the grandiose ideas that distract two intelligent Asian Americans from the simpler and immediate discomfort they have with their identity, roles within their families and their personal relationships.
My favorite aspect of the main character, Ben Tanaka, is he can't see how he causes his own problems. His jealousy, insecurity, and intellectual snobbery fuel his mean and cynical behavior toward his girlfriend.
And the best part is, he's not even consciously aware of what he's doing!
I like this because it is very accurate recreation of real life.
And as the reader, we can objectively watch it unfold in front of us. You can see exactly where Ben Tanaka turns from kind boyfriend into a cynical brat. And he acts like a brat by his own choosing.
This is a phenomenon all human beings share. Not realizing how their own behavior and attitudes are the cause of their life's problems. And the ideas of their era (in this case, identity and race in America) is a superficial lense through which many people try to understand their own suffering.
Tomine has accurately described the very human conflict of emotions and ideals.
A story about a jerk boyfriend, a deceptive girlfriend, and a lesbian. All happens to live in the Berkeley, California area, which happens to be where I reside. Though little explained about the area, but more illustrated, I can say that Berkeley is portrayed correctly within the illustrations.
Somehow those characters (plus a couple minor characters) combine together to form a book that has complexities of cheating, the reverse of "Yellow Fever" which is the Asian male interested in Caucasian females, self-consciousness, and self-identification toward the family. Complexities that keep the reader wanting to know more, wanting to know what happens after.
This book is a story that takes on more than one perspective despite that it seems to be focused on one particular character. You get the perspective of everyone throughout the book; every character's speech style opens a window into their mind. It gives us insight the characters making them relatable to the readers and essentially making them feel like the characters are true people. The characters seem to be realistic.
Overall, the book was an easy read and flows nicely. It was also easy to follow since the book went in chronological order with graphics so guide the readers.