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Shortcomings [Hardcover]

Adrian Tomine
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 Sep 2007

When Miko moves temporarily to live and study in New York she leaves behind behind Ben, a confused, obsessive, 30-year-old theatre manager who finds himself desperately trying to answer the big questions. But aided only by his promiscuous friend Alice, and spending increasing time with his new employee Autumn, things only seem to get more confusing. Does he know what he wants? Is he everything Miko accuses him of? Should he follow her to New York?

A painful, charming and stunningly illustrated look at the realities of modern relationships, Shortcomings is one of the most brilliantly subtle, witty and moving graphic novels around.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber (20 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571233295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571233298
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.6 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 253,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'One of the most masterful cartoonists of his generation.
Shortcomings is equal parts poignant, hilarious and sad.'
-- The Village Voice

'Reading a comic book suddenly becomes as rewarding as reading
good contemporary fiction. Tomine has both talent and a writer's eye for
the truth.' -- Nick Hornby

'Shortcomings is as deceptively simple and perfect as a comic book
gets.' -- Jonathan Lethem

Book Description

'Tomine has both talent and a writer's eye for the truth.' Nick Hornby

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More of the Same 15 Mar 2008
I loved Tomine's early collections, "32 Stories" and "Sleepwalk," but his last one (The Summer Blonde) was a bit of a disappointment, feeling like a rehash of earlier material. This latest book collects issues 9-11 of Optic Nerve into a single narrative arc following a single protagonist. Despite this move from short story to novella-length, Tomine largely fails to take advantage of the space afforded to move into new thematic territory.

His work has always focused on loneliness, and yet again the main character is a socially awkward semi-hipster who tends to alienate people. Ben Tanaka is a 30-year-old manager of an art house cinema in Berkeley (presumably the UC Theater, which like the one Ben manages, was forced to close to due seismic retrofitting regulations), living with his beautiful Japanese-American girlfriend Miko. The story follows Ben's dying relationship with Miko and subsequent rebound attempts with various cute Anglo girls. But Ben is so plagued by insecurity and bitter snobbishness, and is so grumpy and cynical that it becomes increasingly hard as the book progresses to understand what any woman would see in him.

The one new theme Tomine introduces to his work is the struggle to define identity and identity politics among Asian-Americans. Ben, Miko, and even Ben's moxie-laden Korean-American lesbian pal Alice (who tend to steal any scene she's in), all grapple with various stereotypes and self-imposed expectations. However, none of this seems particularly inventive or fresh, and some scenes, such as Alice taking Ben to a family wedding as her beard feel particularly recycled. Then again, I'm not Asian-American, so maybe it has more resonance for that audience.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly enjoyed it! 13 May 2009
By m23
Having read "Summer Blonde" by Tomine I decided to give "Shortcomings" a try. I absolutely like his style, the fine-line drawings are well-balanced and not overwhelming allowing you to absorb the story slowly. The story is about Ben Tanaka, a 30 year-old paralyzed by self-pity. He is finally forced to re-consider his attitude when he is confronted with the fleeting nature of love and friendship. This book is great and it stayed in my mind for quite a while.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic art; sub-fantastic storytelling 9 Jun 2011
Tomine's art never disappoints. He has a gift for the nuance of facial expression that brings his characters gloriously alive, despite the controlled minimalism of his graphic style. This is a much longer strip than he's attempted before, but it still falls disappointingly short of a novella. His dialogue is as authentic and believable as ever, but the tone, pace and rhythm of this piece remain relatively unchanged throughout. Like the middle part of some art film you catch late at night, Tomine's work occupies the expositional wasteland between plot points. It works fine with the shorter vignettes, but longer pieces require more story. Tomine has not yet developed the story-telling skills of Jason Lutes, Chris Ware or Dan Clowes but is no less important a comic artist. A more fully-realised long-form piece from Tomine really would be a fine thing.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Easy reading 26 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Just like every of his books Tomine is a great Storyteller, their stories talk about our daily experiences, normal people with normal doubts and questions ... so true and deep ...
and ofcourse the drawings are amazing ...

Shortcomings, is a easy reading, and talks about the struggle of a man in a relationship that has to change ...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Short and sweet 8 Feb 2012
This is the second graphic novel I've read, after the incredibly disappointing Watchmen. And thankfully this was far better. It analyses human relationships in an really perceptive way and holds individual selfishness to account. My only criticism would be it was over too soon, but I'd thoroughly recommend this to anyone who loves novels but wouldn't mind trying a graphic novel - excellent.
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