Good-Bye – By Yoshihiro Tatsumi

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Goodreads Synopsis: Good-Bye is the third in a series of collected short stories from Drawn & Quarterly by the legendary Japanese cartoonist Yoshihiro Tatsumi, whose previous work has been selected for several annual “top 10” lists, including those compiled by Amazon and Time.com. Drawn in 1971 and 1972, these stories expand the prolific artist’s vocabulary for characters contextualized by themes of depravity and disorientation in twentieth-century Japan.

Some of the tales focus on the devastation the country felt directly as a result of World War II: a prostitute loses all hope when American GIs go home to their wives; a man devotes twenty years of his life to preserving the memory of those killed at Hiroshima, only to discover a horrible misconception at the heart of his tribute. Yet, while American influence does play a role in the disturbing and bizarre stories contained within this volume, it is hardly the overriding theme. A philanthropic foot fetishist, a rash-ridden retiree, and a lonely public onanist are but a few of the characters etching out darkly nuanced lives in the midst of isolated despair and fleeting pleasure.

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Halfway through my school term we started reading this collection by Yoshihiro Tatsumi, and it was quite an interesting experience.

Tatsumi’s stories are dark and realistic, most of them following male characters who are older and wondering what to do with the last years of their lives. His art style is simple but I don’t say that in a bad way. It’s basic, drawing you in with it’s simplicity,  turning the faces of his characters into faces you could easily imagine on the street.

I was simultaneously interested in the stories and annoyed by them. I wanted to read more because Tatsumi has a great writing style, but I also had a hard time caring for his pathetic male characters. The stories he chooses to tell are sad, the feeling of being lost, of not having a place in the world is on every page. And I really liked that, I think it’s a feeling worth exploring through stories. But part of me was also frustrated with the stories. Men have so much privilege in the world, and I’m supposed sit through a collection of them whining? I just can’t make myself care about them very much…

In the end I gave the collection three stars, and I still recommend it even though it wasn’t really my favorite.

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