TALKING LINES in Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly Review - Talking Lines

Publishers Weekly    |    Publishers Weekly    |    September 4, 2009

Whether appearing in Harvey Kurtzman’s short-lived comic magazine
Humbug in the late 1950s, or the New York Times Book Review in 2004,
Blechman’s graphic stories are remarkably consistent. His simple yet
sophisticated style is inimitable and instantly recognizable: jittery
lines, barely sketched-out settings and deadpan sensibility.
Blechman’s characters are frequently clueless sorts, hurling
ridiculous actions into the winds of the time and being judged harshly
for it by their creator. His sense of the satiric crops up frequently,
and it is rarely applied with much subtlety. With the exception of
“Contamination,” a longer piece from 1964 about the nuclear arms race,
most of Blechman’s political work falls flat. His stories about famous
literary figures range from the meaningful (Virginia Woolf as utterly
dependent on her husband) to playfully absurd (Shakespeare as
potential advertising copy writer). Though an uneven collection over
all, the scale comes down in Blechman’s favor due to the inclusion of
“Georgie,” which takes up the bulk of the book’s second half. A
previously unpublished piece from 1992 about a man who loses just
about everything in life but for his exceptional dog, it’s somehow
wholly sentimental and yet astonishingly wise in its sprawling
sadness. (Sept.)

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