Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Shortcomings, Part 1

I got so caught up in the angst of Ben Tanaka, the cranky protagonist of Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings, a collection of 2004-2007 stories from his comic book, Optic Nerve, I missed the big clue — even though Ben himself didn’t.

He sees a series of artsy photos of his girlfriend, who’s allegedly been on an internship in New York City for the past few months. He doesn’t announce he knows the pictures were taken back in California — that is to say, before Miko arrived in New York, and therefore her relationship with the photographer began then, too — until the book’s climax.

And I thought, wait, how did he figure that …? Then he tells her, and us. So I flipped back a couple chapters. Then another. And I saw it, too.

Then I realized the clue also is all over the book’s cover, front and back.

Very clever.

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