cover image The Book Tour

The Book Tour

Andi Watson. Top Shelf, $24.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-60309-479-5

A baffled author tumbles through an escalating series of misunderstandings in this alternately charming and unsettling gloss on Kafka’s The Trial. Watson (Glister) uses his tightly framed etching to highlight the claustrophobic confusion faced by G.H. Fretwell as he embarks on a promotional tour for his novel Without K. Wandering through a Central Europeanesque city, all cobblestone streets and twisting alleyways, Fretwell persists on the tour, which keeps getting extended despite a lack of interest from the public or (confusingly for him) even his publisher. Humiliations pile on top of embarrassments: “It’s curious, we usually sell at least one copy,” one bookstore owner says to the author, who at times resembles a bumbling John Cleese character as much as Josef K. As the quality of Fretwell’s lodgings deteriorates, the mood darkens and a pair of police detectives ask about his possible connections to a series of murders committed by the “Suitcase Killer,” though Watson imbues even those interactions with humor (“You’re from the Literary Review?” “We’re police, sir”). Watson neatly balances moody atmosphere and light comedy, salting his narrative with outré details, such as one city being so hostile and bureaucratic that its homeless shelter requires reservations. This deadpan funny riff on artistic insecurities will play like a nightmare come true for many authors. [em](Nov.) [/em]