Tuesday, June 14, 2011, 7:00 P.M., City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco
Life with Mr. Dangerous
published by Villard
Though at first it's like just another story of a lovelorn 20-something frozen in depressive, media-saturated ennui, Hornschemeier's simple, sad but gorgeous novel about a girl, Amy, whose life is spiraling down into morose singledom, gets right what so many tales of this kind never do. Drawn with the kind of illustrative simplicity that makes Adrian Tomine’s work so addictive—the faces and backgrounds are glassy and blank at first, but in fact draw the reader deeper in—Amy’s story follows a downward arc. Working a dead-end retail job and having just broken up with the last in a series of uninspiring boyfriends, Amy loses herself in angry, self-lacerating interior monologues and reruns of a surreal cartoon, "Mr. Dangerous." Her devotion to her cat and morose, divorced mother loom as forecasts of a future she hates to contemplate. In between rejecting any friendly co-worker or potential date who gets anywhere close to her, Amy agonizes over her life’s sole saving grace: long-distance conversations with her friend Michael, who moved out to San Francisco and appears to be the only person who gets her. The conclusion comes down to a will-they-or-won’t-they scenario that could easily be trite, but Hornschemeier handles it perfectly.
"Cringe and laugh and cringe some more -- Life With Mr. Dangerous has it all. Also, you will cringe."
Paul Hornschemeier is an illustrator based in Chicago. He is known for his thought-provoking explorations of the layered complexities of human life. He is the author of Mother, Come Home, Let Us Be Perfectly Clear, andThe Three Paradoxes. He is also the creator of the experimental comic series called Sequential. His work has been featured by McSweeneys and Giant Robot. He is the former singer and guitarist for the pop music group ARK.