P.M. Bradshaw, February 26, 2015 (view all comments by P.M. Bradshaw)
An engrossing story of an Asian man’s failing relationship. Ben Tenaka is not a very likable character, and yet you’re drawn to his life, his friend, and his girlfriend. Sad and beautiful.
lukas, April 11, 2008 (view all comments by lukas)
The latest from Adrian Tomine (Optic Nerve, Summer Blonde), one of the most gifted artists/writers working, is a bittersweet (well, mostly bitter), short illustrated novel about relationships. With his usual acute sense of character, Tomine gives us a protagonist who is self-absorbed & cynical, yet still sympathetic. He breaks up with his Japanese girlfriend, pursues other women (who are white), and flies across the country to spy on his ex-girlfriend. Tomine's drawings are subtle and incisive, his dialogue well-observed (think an indie film that doesn't suck), and he tackles thorny issues like race, sex, gender, sexuality, jealousy, and, um, penis size. The hardcover edition features a handy ruler on the cover.
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booooooring, March 1, 2008 (view all comments by booooooring)
i read this book and i though is highly overrated. It's boring at best, there is no real character development as some people suggest, and the drawings are bleak and uninteresting.
people get all excited over this kind of comics just because it's "real" and "mature", but that's not the point. i don't have any problem with mature stories, i have a problem with BAD stories.
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Signature Reviewed by Junot Diaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: Tomine'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, ber-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. Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Charles McGrath, The New York Times Magazine,
"Adrian Tomine...may be the best prose writer of the bunch. His young people, falling in and out of relationships, paralyzed by shyness and self-consciousness, take on a certain dignity and individuality."
by Entertainment Weekly,
"[Shortcomings] follows moody movie-theater owner Ben Tanaka, who struggles to hang on to his Asian girlfriend while secretly lusting after white ladies. He's sad and somewhat despicable, and yet Tomine, being the understated virtuoso he is, effortlessly spins him into a Gen-X hero."
FROM THE PREEMINENT CARTOONIST OF HIS GENERATION, THE MOST ANTICIPATED GRAPHIC NOVEL OF 2007
Shortcomings, Adrian Tomine's first long-form graphic novel, is the story of Ben Tanaka, a confused, obsessive Japanese American male in his late twenties, and his cross-country search for contentment (or at least the perfect girl). Along the way, Tomine tackles modern culture, sexual mores, and racial politics with brutal honesty and lacerating, irreverent humor, while deftly bringing to life a cast of painfully real antihero characters. A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, Tomine has acquired a cultlike fan following and has earned status as one of the most widely acclaimed cartoonists of our time.
Shortcomings was serialized in Tomine's iconic comic book series Optic Nerve and was excerpted in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #13.
The 2007 New York Times Book Review Notable Book now in paperback
Lauded for its provocative and insightful portrayal of interpersonal relationships, Adrian Tomines politically charged Shortcomings was one of the most acclaimed books of 2007. Among many interviews and reviews in outlets around the country, Tomine was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPRs Fresh Air and also in The Believer, New York magazine, and Giant Robot. Shortcomings landed on countless “best of” lists, including those in Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times; was praised by Junot Díaz in Publishers Weekly; and was the subject of a solo review in The New York Times Book Review that drew comparison between Tomine and Philip Roth. The groundbreaking graphic novel now returns in paperback.
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