Saturday, April 24, 2010

Book Review - The Push Man and Other Stories by Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Adrian Tomine

Title: The Push Man and Other Stories
Author: Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Adrian Tomine  
Year: 205  
Page: 224
Genre: Graphic Novel

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Probably not
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? Japan
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library
Summary (from
Tatsumi's brief, disturbing stories, originally published in 1969, have a tone somewhere between contemporary short fiction and EC Comics' old "shock" comics. Each hinges on some kind of prurient or sexually twisted situation: a man's bedridden lover turns out to be a physically mutated sex slave; an office worker puts on his girlfriend's makeup and clothes and has an affair with another woman; a man who disinfects telephones for a living calls a prostitute, but can't think of anything to do but pull out his disinfection kit. Produced over a short period of time, the stories are variations on a theme of social maladjustment. Tatsumi draws marvelously evocative settings, and his stories flow with dreamlike ambiguity, speeding toward the inevitable tragedies at their ends, but his characters appear practically identical. This reinforces both the repetitive nature of his themes and Tatsumi's view of the common man's continuing struggle in a merciless world of menial jobs, impotence and abortions. Tatsumi is known as the "grandfather of Japanese alternative comics," and this is the first in a proposed series of authorized English-language collections of his work. His work anticipates American alternative comics, making it clear why American cartoonist Adrian Tomine, who edited this collection, was attracted to the work.

First Sentence: n/a
Why did I pick this book?
While I was browsing the Graphic Novel shelves at the library for Blankets by Craig Thompson, I checked out the other books nearby. Saw this book (and along with his two other books Abandon the Old in Tokyo and Good-Bye) and thought I wanted to learn more about Japan during the WWII era, so thought I'd give it a try.

My thoughts:
  • I didn't finish it... I read about half way through. While they were like short stories, they just weren't interesting enough to keep me going. I probably won't take me that long to finish it all (this book, plus the other 2 books), but I have way too many other books waiting for me - I have 40 I haven't read yet - and picking up 6 more I'd reserved on Monday!
  • I think part of the reason I couldn't finish is because they are short stories... I don't like short stories much in written books, so I probably don't like them much in graphic novels either. I want to know more about the characters, the plot etc, and short stories just don't do it for me. I used to like reading Japanese teenage manga, but I think I've outgrown them

    Did not finish

    Have you read this book? 
    If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


    1. I read Goodbye a few months ago and loathed it for its depiction of women. :(

    2. Probably a good thing I'm giving it a miss then!