I’m still on a quest for good graphic novels, and I can’t believe how many are out there that I had no idea about. For me, the graphic novel is an easy way for me to get quickly lost in a book, something I need right now as the semester is coming to a close and I carry a pile of essays home to grade every weekend.
Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine was a book that got me hooked quickly, but also made me reflect. It’s easy to breeze through, but there’s a lot going on: a broken relationship, issues with one’s identity as Asian-American, growing up and hiding your sexual orientation from conservative parents. At first, I hated the protagonist, Ben Tanaka, a Japanese-American man with a cynical retort for everything around him. But as the novel progressed, I sympathized for him. He was clearly a man with loads of insecurities. It’s a book that I wanted to discuss with people in order to unpack a lot of the tension going on in the narrative. There’s a lot of statements that it makes. I don’t want to say all of the statements here because I want you to read it.
Story aside, the illustrations are also really nice. I take for granted all of the time and energy it takes the writer to not only write real dialogue, but also craft each pane and build a story.