The Lie and How We Told It by Tommi Parrish 

At its most basic, this is a story of two once close teenage(?) friends, now twenty-somethings(?), who run into each other again by chance, some years after drifting apart. After one character gets off work at a grocery store, they end up drinking a bottle of stolen wine, then getting some food together, going for a walk, and going to a bar… all the while having a pretty restrained, banal conversation about what they’ve been up to. One has supposedly recently broken up with someone, while one is supposedly soon to be married. They also talk a little about their shared past. Twice this main story is interrupted by a more poetic feeling, and somehow even more vague and uninteresting story (drawn in black and white, with only one panel per page and one short paragraph of text per page), apparently the contents of a mini-comic found by one of the main characters on the ground. This second story seems to be about a stripper and an ambiguous romance.  

There’s really very little to either tale I felt I could sink my teeth into, and the whole sparsely written graphic novel probably took less than thirty minutes to read. 

On first glance, the artwork, especially the color artwork, looks extremely appealing, but over the course of the book, it also becomes a weakness. There’s a lack of variety (a sameness), a certain ambiguity, an expressionlessness and lack of character that becomes overly apparent, and ultimately left me cold. All the artwork manages to accomplish is to add to the boring and banal feeling created by the flat text. Maybe it’s intentional, but intentionally boring the reader isn’t a great storytelling strategy. Characters are all drawn with big clunky bodies and tiny, usually expressionless heads (including the background characters), which sometimes makes it hard to identify with what’s going on, who is who, and even harder to feel anything for these lumps. Like, as single illustrations for a New York Times article, these drawings would be great, but in service to a graphic novel, with panel after panel of them, it becomes deadly dull. 

This book seems to be part of a trend of, on the surface, attractive looking books, but when actually read, somewhat lacking in content and interest, and definitely lacking in humor. Luckily, I borrowed this one from my library, as if it was a purchase, I would feel pretty ripped off. 

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