cover image Life with Mr. Dangerous

Life with Mr. Dangerous

Paul Hornschemeier, Villard, $20 (160p) ISBN 978-0-345-49441-2

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. (May)