Insomnia Caf

M. K. Perker, Author, Brendan Wright, Author, Matt Dryer, Illustrator . Dark Horse $14.95 (80p) ISBN 978-1-59582-357-1

Best known in the U.S. as G. Willow Wilson's collaborator on Air and Cairo , Perker first serialized this book in Turkey, although it's got a distinct New York City setting and flavor. It's a patchwork mutt of a tale—partly a farcical adventure about a chronically tardy rare-book expert named Peter Kolinsky who's caught up in shady doings, partly a Borgesian fantasia involving an archive of not-yet-written books that disappear as soon as someone outside the building writes them. The book's tone keeps shifting, and the gruesome, metafictional final act doesn't quite fit with the whimsical mood of the rest of the story. Perker's finely detailed black-and-white linework holds it all together, however. His characters' features and bodies are exaggerated in the manner of editorial cartoons, with arrowhead noses or elongated skulls, but he imagines them so precisely and consistently that the overall effect is of a groggily misperceived city, where everything seems to be a little smeary. Perker suggests that a lifetime immersed in books can distort a reader's view of the world, and in fact the characters' names (Oblomov, Carlos Muñoz) often allude to his literary or artistic influences. The book's playfulness, referentiality, and stylishness don't quite make up for its wobbly plot. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 11/30/2009
Release date: 12/01/2009
Genre: Fiction
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