Book Review

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist by Adrian Tomine

a bland book for my bland life

Written January 25th, 2022

I read Adrian Tomine’s Killing and Dying a few years ago, and though I can’t remember it all too well, I remember leaving it with a sense of a positive experience, and Tomine remained a creative whose books I would consider in shops on the regular.

As a non-American who doesn’t value elite institutions of any kind (except for when they acknowledge me lol hahaha am I even joking?), I’m not a regular reader of the New Yorker (not even the issue that I was quoted in did I peruse properly – tho I do, of course, plan to frame it), so I didn’t realise Tomine was a regular contributor to that, which essentially means that Tomine is a big fucking deal, and someone who is expected to be known. Essentially, in my experience, anything in the New Yorker is presumed knowledge for all artsy Americans, in the way that the performance of local football teams is presumed knowledge in any remotely blokey setting in the UK. I never know anything about anything other people know about, a) because I don’t socialise, b) because I’m scared of talking to people and c) I I I I’m not really real.

I’m typing this in the laundrette again. I always feel anxious in the laundrette, because I’ve been culturally conditioned to see anyone who enters a laundrette as below consideration. In the middle England of my youth and younger adulthood, an absence of a domestic washing machine was akin to the absence of an undergraduate degree: essentially unthinkable. I don’t know where I’m going with this.

I did something I haven’t done for ages earlier and submitted some poems to magazines. I went through my notes and (poetic) sketches from the previous year and I was almost shocked to see how little fucking material there is. I have nothing to say, this website is a thousand fucking posts of me just screaming that I HAVE NOTHING AND I MEAN NOTHING.

I WANT TO FALL ASLEEP IN THE SNOW AND NEVER WAKE UP

I WANT TO RUN ACROSS THE ICE ON THE LAKE AND FALL THROUGH

I WANT SOMETHING, ANYTHING, SOMETHING, TO GET ME OUT OF THIS DEEP FUCKING RUT

I’m meant to be going to Italy in less than three months, but I don’t have a ticket yet and I honestly – I’ve said this here before – don’t know if I’ll be able to survive returning to my truly fucking empty Canadian life i-

What does it matter?

I type the same thing twice a week and nothing changes.

I had a job interview last week for a job I didn’t want and I got through to the second round and even though I felt like I owed it to them to continue with the process, I told them I wasn’t interested, which felt like progress, kinda, but when am I going to end up saying yes to a job I do want, rather than saying no to a hundred jobs that I don’t?

Still, anything (everything) will be better than that 2016 to ’17 nightmare year. 2018 was a good year, I have to keep maintaining that a good year is possible for an adult me, tho it doesn’t look like 2022 is going to be one (unless the January and its lockdown really is a fucking anomaly and I get back to exercising and working and everything improves again).

Right.

The Adrian Tomine.

Lol. I don’t have anything to say about this graphic/comic memoir. It’s mostly around awkward things that happen during Tomine’s career – being overshadowed by the more famous names and brands of the mainstream comics industry (Tomine is an “indie darling” (if you can refer to someone who is regularly published in the New Yorker as an “indie darling”)), but there’s no real – eurgh 0 narrative to it. It’s anecdotes, none of which really have much tension and – through an excess of either Tomine’s or his publisher’s fear of libel – absolutely every name that is referred to in an even remotely negative way is excised from the text. There isn’t even any good gossip in here, just a gentle memoir that touches on the micro-aggressions of quotidian racism, on parenting, on romance, and on creativity, but never really gets into anything with any bite.

There’s no adultery, there’s no regret, there’s nothing slightly bad that happens to Tomine that is the result of his poor behaviour or maliciousness: Tomine and his friends and his family come off well, and – I hate to put it this bluntly – what’s meant to interest me in the life story of someone who’s happy?

Who’s happy?

How???

How can anyone be happy in this fucking world? 

That’s not a rhetorical question. Please. How? Because nothing – and I’ve tried it all – helps.


my latest – and imo best – book hip-hop-o-crit available now

sad prose book the pleasure of regret from Broken Sleep Books.

Humour ‘n’ Full Frontal Nudes in Because Earth Is Flat (with Sean Preston)

Listen to my novelty XXXmas song on Spotify

Order my raucous poetry collection via Open Pen.

Order my sad prose chapbook via Selcouth Station Press.


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