Village Voice Summer Book Round Up

Village Voice Summer Book Round Up

The Village Voice    |    Ed Park    |    July 3, 2002

VLS, July 3-9 2002
Henry James deemed "summer afternoon" the most beautiful phrase in the English language; comic-book artist Adrian Tomine makes a case for Summer Blonde, conjuring an even headier collision of sense and season. The cover sports a pouty babe in tank top; that the story in question is as much about a sociopathic stalker and a ménage-à-trois artiste as the titular fair-haired girl is a buried punchline of sorts. In these four immaculately rendered novellas (from Tomine's "Optic Nerve" series), the frisson lies in the way the airtight style bears the mess and the sadness of sex.

These SoCal characters languish under the sign of the noonday demon, their lives punctuated by purchases of quiet desperation that only make things worse. A developing borderline personality gets a self-help book from her well-meaning sister; a boy receives an unwanted C + C Music Factory album from his mother's suitor ("Look . . . just take the god damn tape, okay?" the man mutters); a sad-sack voyeur buys birthday cards he doesn't need for the proximity it affords to the comely cashier. Emotionally adroit, with expertly detonated Carveresque epiphanies and Pekarian silences, Summer Blonde is compulsive melancholy.

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