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Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel: A Graphic Novel

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*A New York Times Notable Book*“Funny, painful, outrageous . . . Anya Ulinich is the David Sedaris of Russian-American cartoonists.”—Gary ShteyngartAnya Ulinich turns her sharp eye toward the strange, often unmooring world of “grown-up” dating in this darkly comic graphic novel. After her fifteen-year marriage ends, Lena Finkle gets an eye-opening education in love, sex, a *A New York Times Notable Book*“Funny, painful, outrageous . . . Anya Ulinich is the David Sedaris of Russian-American cartoonists.”—Gary ShteyngartAnya Ulinich turns her sharp eye toward the strange, often unmooring world of “grown-up” dating in this


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*A New York Times Notable Book*“Funny, painful, outrageous . . . Anya Ulinich is the David Sedaris of Russian-American cartoonists.”—Gary ShteyngartAnya Ulinich turns her sharp eye toward the strange, often unmooring world of “grown-up” dating in this darkly comic graphic novel. After her fifteen-year marriage ends, Lena Finkle gets an eye-opening education in love, sex, a *A New York Times Notable Book*“Funny, painful, outrageous . . . Anya Ulinich is the David Sedaris of Russian-American cartoonists.”—Gary ShteyngartAnya Ulinich turns her sharp eye toward the strange, often unmooring world of “grown-up” dating in this darkly comic graphic novel. After her fifteen-year marriage ends, Lena Finkle gets an eye-opening education in love, sex, and loss when she embarks on a string of online dates, all while raising her two teenage daughters. The Vampire of Bensonhurst, the Orphan, Disaster Man, and the Diamond Psychiatrist are just a few of the unforgettable characters she meets along the way. Evoking Louis C. K.’s humor and Amy Winehouse’s longing and anguish, and paying homage to Malamud and Chekhov, Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel is a funny and moving story, beautifully told.

17 review for Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel: A Graphic Novel

  1. 4 out of 5

    Raina

    Bread and butter, friends. This thing is my bread and butter. I could read this shit all day long.Thank you - so much, Meghan, for pointing this book out to me. Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel seems to be a barely veiled autobiographical tale. Lena is a 37-year-old woman who is getting divorced. Here, she decides to enter the dating pool again. We learn about her childhood (mostly lived in Russia), her familial relationships (she has two daughters), her life as a famous novelist, her friendships, her Bread and butter, friends. This thing is my bread and butter. I could read this shit all day long.Thank you - so much, Meghan, for pointing this book out to me. Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel seems to be a barely veiled autobiographical tale. Lena is a 37-year-old woman who is getting divorced. Here, she decides to enter the dating pool again. We learn about her childhood (mostly lived in Russia), her familial relationships (she has two daughters), her life as a famous novelist, her friendships, her exploits with men (sadly, she only experiments with straight relationships). There's a literary allusion folded in here, and she goes into some detail about her relationships and romantic choices. Long-term, short-term, personal reflection, grown-up decisions. Love it.Though speech bubbles are everywhere, most of the book doesn't have more than one panel to a page. Which is good, because most of the pages are cram-packed with text. It's all black and white, which gives the feeling of an art-journal or sketchbook, rather than a more fully-produced graphic novel. Flipping through the book, I'm struck by the beauty of these layouts.I was a little let-down by the ending, but I think that's because I simply didn't want it to end. I wanted to know Lena's next choice, and where it led her. I found myself reading portions out to other people in the room.I identified with Lena's story - of late romantic experimentation, of intentional & cerebral self-experimentation, of personal reinvention, of finding the boundaries between adult behavior and freedom. Of responsibility, and impulse, and knowing you're hurting future-you but not caring. Of irrational despair.Yeah, might need to own this one.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    Autobiographical fiction thinly veiled, seems to me, about a woman with two teenaged daughters who dumps her husband and eventually goes on the dating scene, encountering what we have come to expect, humorous losers and some interesting guys, too. It's meant to seem like a lot of ideas and sketches are put on cocktail napkins, scraps of paper, journals, wherever, and these get represented here, pretty interestingly. A lot of words. Too many for my taste in the medium. I think women, anyone, I gu Autobiographical fiction thinly veiled, seems to me, about a woman with two teenaged daughters who dumps her husband and eventually goes on the dating scene, encountering what we have come to expect, humorous losers and some interesting guys, too. It's meant to seem like a lot of ideas and sketches are put on cocktail napkins, scraps of paper, journals, wherever, and these get represented here, pretty interestingly. A lot of words. Too many for my taste in the medium. I think women, anyone, I guess, who has done a lot of online dating would like this. It's intensively, obsessively reflective (and often graphically funny) on various related topics, where she constantly talks with her friend about her choices, and she also has a small version of herself she talks with throughout dates and the whole process. I thought it was just okay for most of it, then got a little hooked when The One Good Guy came around, and that struggle ensued.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    First, I don't think this is a graphic novel. I think it is an illustrated novel. It may sound like splitting hairs, but I think it is a distinction that may impact your expectations about this book. The art really doesn't propel the text-heavy story in any significant way. Many pages are just text with a drawing of the author's face staring out at you. It's a style that tended to frustrate my wavering sympathies for the self-involved narrator."I know I'm ranting, but hey, here's my face. This c First, I don't think this is a graphic novel. I think it is an illustrated novel. It may sound like splitting hairs, but I think it is a distinction that may impact your expectations about this book. The art really doesn't propel the text-heavy story in any significant way. Many pages are just text with a drawing of the author's face staring out at you. It's a style that tended to frustrate my wavering sympathies for the self-involved narrator."I know I'm ranting, but hey, here's my face. This can be all loose and 'Experimental' because it's not a real novel! Here's my face again!"Did you ever spend a drunken evening listening to a heartbroken friend who just needed to ramble and really had no interest in you at all? That's this book. Your degree of sympathy for Lena Finkle may be more generous than mine, but I would say that I was slightly less amused than frustrated by her navelgazing neuroses. For me, that was not a ratio that would lead to a recommendation.Also, she often considers the opinions of a little pocket-sized critical version of herself. I mean, Jesus, seriously?Great cover, though.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    This book is so tediously awful that I almost stopped reading at page 50. But I decided to hate read it all the way to the end so my condemnation couldn't be dismissed with a simple, "Well, he didn't read the whole thing."Reading this book is the equivalent of being stuck on a eight-hour bus ride next to a person who will just not shut up about themselves for even a single second.Giant word balloons and captions literally crowd the mediocre art off half the pages. It would be easy to take away t This book is so tediously awful that I almost stopped reading at page 50. But I decided to hate read it all the way to the end so my condemnation couldn't be dismissed with a simple, "Well, he didn't read the whole thing."Reading this book is the equivalent of being stuck on a eight-hour bus ride next to a person who will just not shut up about themselves for even a single second.Giant word balloons and captions literally crowd the mediocre art off half the pages. It would be easy to take away the art, typeset the text and publish this as a short story. I wish that had been the case, because then I never would have picked this up. Damn my compulsive need to read every graphic novel I come across!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    Ulinich does something extraordinary here by combining her storytelling and drawing skills to create an absorbing graphic novel featuring the drama of an adult woman searching for love. This is not ordinary entertainment, but instead a realistic and riveting examination of the vicissitudes of finding love and keeping it.Lena Finkle is the twice-divorced mother of two who is about to get herself involved in an inter-continental relationship with a married man. When a friend wisely suggests Lena g Ulinich does something extraordinary here by combining her storytelling and drawing skills to create an absorbing graphic novel featuring the drama of an adult woman searching for love. This is not ordinary entertainment, but instead a realistic and riveting examination of the vicissitudes of finding love and keeping it.Lena Finkle is the twice-divorced mother of two who is about to get herself involved in an inter-continental relationship with a married man. When a friend wisely suggests Lena get more experience with men before she jumps into another unsuitable relationship, Lena forays into the world of online dating. Lena’s trenchant observations about her stumbling first steps in this direction are cringe-worthy best friend talk, admitting confusion, bad choices, and failure. To top it off, Lena has a homunculus on her shoulder making snide asides and expressing the observations Lena’s less rational side needs to hear. There is an energy in this novel that derives from the combination of cartoonish drawings and the wrenching real-life agony of misplaced and unrequited love. References to the online dating site OkCupid lower the tone; comparisons of Lena’s work as a novelist with Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, Anton Chekov heighten the tension. It is an absurdist romp with heartbreaking consequences, and yes, this is indeed a sort of classic literature filled with naked vulnerability and deep intelligence. There is movement, introspection, growth, and understanding.The central character, a Russian, a Jew, and a mother, has all the strengths and weaknesses of those categories we use for shorthand. Lena denies her Jewish background (“I fail the faith test in God”) at the same time she pulls out her angst for us to contemplate. “Oh my God, I’m turning into a Russian wife!” she exclaims when she instinctively over-cares for her sick lover. In the next line she denies being slotted into that category: “I will never, ever be a Russian wife!” She is practical and loving as a mother, and also claims to be “impersonating a mother” when her love affair goes sideways. She tosses her homunculus into the gutter: “Your knee-jerk skepticism, your materialist rationality, and your stupid irony—what use are they to me now?” Buying a pair of shoes might set off a flood of introspection, self-criticism, and a peering into the larger society: “buying a pair of red shoes wouldn’t constitute a punishable offense, but would certainly invite questions…which would load the shoes with too much significance to ever actually wear…which is why married people in Brooklyn are stuck in horrible moccasins and fleece sweaters they buy online…” The Scottish philosopher-lawyer-author Alexander McCall Smith couldn’t have said it better.The man she chose to learn from was not the perfect man: he was a device for making her more self-aware and accepting. Lena wanted to ignore her homunculus and friend Yvonne who told her not to close her eyes to the bright yellow caution tape in his conversation. Lena needed to be able to see, to listen to her homunculus even when she didn’t want to. Finally, understanding dawns. “No one ever really arrives. We just nudge each other along muddy ruts of suffering, occasionally peeking over the edges of our ruts in search of a better way.” The name of Ulinich’s central character, Lena Finkle, is derived from two references that situate the character in the absurdist canon. Lena Dunham’s droll movie, Tiny Furniture, about a college graduate moving back into her mother’s apartment in the City, has an unforgettable scene about the struggle for intimacy—in a street-side construction pipe. This same hilarious and breathtakingly painful description of the nakedness of one’s need is keenly described in drawings and thought bubbles by Ulinich. The second reference is derived from Bernard Malamud’s story, “Magic Barrel,” in which a man, Leo Finkle, asks for help from a matchmaker in finding a mate. Leo Finkle is a rabbinical student doing what was expected of him until one day he realized he had no faith! This set off a depression which led him to a “panicked grasping” of a young woman which he called “love.”I can’t recommend this novel more highly. Its dark humor and anguished understanding ties into some of the great literature of the 19th and 20th centuries but in a format that is finally coming into its own in the 21st century. The graphic novel format is uniquely suited to Ulinich’s skills. As always when an author manages a breathtaking high-wire act, I wonder if it can be replicated. But no matter, enjoy this one for what it is—an astonishing and absorbing example of high-intensity literature for our time. Many kudos to Ulinich for reminding us of Malamud's delicious little story once again.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Maas

    5 Stars for this Coming of Age Graphic NovelI picked this up from the library on purpose - to get something I don't normally go for. And although I don't normally go for these kinds of books - self-absorbed dramas that are basically about how important it is to have a boyfriend - Anya Ulinich's overwhelming talent is able to overcome this premise.Backhanded compliment over - now on to why it is great.First of all, the artwork is fantastic. Full page drawings that come at you with full force. Ver 5 Stars for this Coming of Age Graphic NovelI picked this up from the library on purpose - to get something I don't normally go for. And although I don't normally go for these kinds of books - self-absorbed dramas that are basically about how important it is to have a boyfriend - Anya Ulinich's overwhelming talent is able to overcome this premise.Backhanded compliment over - now on to why it is great.First of all, the artwork is fantastic. Full page drawings that come at you with full force. Very little negative space, a lot of self-portraits. Just great.Second of all, in all the ramblings of - again - how important it is to have a boyfriend - there is tremendous insight. I particularly like one passage when a friend is advising her on her most recent time being dumped by a guy who apparently liked her, her kids, and never fought. Paraphrasing here - but the friend says 'Of course you never fought and he loved your kids, because he was a tourist to your heart. He visited all your friends, and hung out with your kids, and was nice - because he knew he was going to leave. He even did some charity work on you like people might do on vacation, but he was great because he knew he was going to leave.'So yeah stick with this one even if it is not your style - you won't regret it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rachel MacNaught

    An inner dialogue as clustered and ordered as real thoughts, this graphic novel gave me my Oprah moment. You know that Oprah moment. When the the camera would pan to the audience and land on a face full of "YES. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED TO HEAR" understanding while you, the listless observer surfing channels, drew nothing of revelation? It also occurs in fanatic political or religious rallies.Well, this gave me one.It wasn't a revelation, it was a YES. THIS IS WHAT THOUGHTS ARE LIKE. THIS I An inner dialogue as clustered and ordered as real thoughts, this graphic novel gave me my Oprah moment. You know that Oprah moment. When the the camera would pan to the audience and land on a face full of "YES. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED TO HEAR" understanding while you, the listless observer surfing channels, drew nothing of revelation? It also occurs in fanatic political or religious rallies.Well, this gave me one.It wasn't a revelation, it was a YES. THIS IS WHAT THOUGHTS ARE LIKE. THIS IS HOW MORAL LINES ARE BLURRED. This felt real. It felt substantial. It made a guttural, "HOLY SHIT. THIS MAN IS A PIECE OF SHIT," scratch out of my throat moments before I accepted that I AM that man in the story. My villainy was shown as beautiful and immature and empty as it is. And it made me remember those nights I WAS Lena, without ever taking away the power of either side of the dynamic.Anyway. I enjoyed it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    Well, that was a disappointment. Given my similar background with the protagonist, I fully expected to like it. The opening line, "My sexual awakening was entirely the fault of the U.S. State Department," was provocative enough, and made me smile, but, alas, after several pages my interest started to wane and reached its nadir by the page 20. I did press on and I did finish but it was more of a testament to my will power than author's skills. The art in the book neither supports the story line n Well, that was a disappointment. Given my similar background with the protagonist, I fully expected to like it. The opening line, "My sexual awakening was entirely the fault of the U.S. State Department," was provocative enough, and made me smile, but, alas, after several pages my interest started to wane and reached its nadir by the page 20. I did press on and I did finish but it was more of a testament to my will power than author's skills. The art in the book neither supports the story line nor appeals to my eye; positioning of the text bubbles obstructs the flow of the reading, the main character seems to be stuck in perpetual teenagehood, and finally the principal theme (dating woes) didn't strike a chord with me. There were memorable moments there - a crash "course" in the history of the USSR in the nineties, re-reading "Darling" by Chekhov and seeing it differently - but to find those fragments took so much determination, I was exhausted upon turning the last page.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marcy Dermansky

    This is such a brave honest and funny book. My own story is not Lena Finkle's -- or Anya Ulinich's -- but as a writer, recently divorced, mother of a small child, there was so much I could relate to. I also loved the illustrations. I am full of admiration for this book. And how different an experience it must have been for Ulinich to write it. This is such a brave honest and funny book. My own story is not Lena Finkle's -- or Anya Ulinich's -- but as a writer, recently divorced, mother of a small child, there was so much I could relate to. I also loved the illustrations. I am full of admiration for this book. And how different an experience it must have been for Ulinich to write it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    The Jewish Book Council

    Review by Tahneer Oksman for the Jewish Book Council. Review by Tahneer Oksman for the Jewish Book Council.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie (aka WW)

    This book has one of the worst covers I’ve ever seen. If it wasn’t for a recommendation by a GR friend, I would never have picked it up. But I did, and I’m glad I did. Anya Ulinich has a distinct drawing style. It approaches Emil Ferris’ at times (My Favorite Thing Is Monsters), but nobody is as good as Emil Ferris. The story follows Russian-born, thirty-something Lena Finkle’s reentrance into the dating scene after splitting up with her husband of 13 years. Lena tries online dating services and This book has one of the worst covers I’ve ever seen. If it wasn’t for a recommendation by a GR friend, I would never have picked it up. But I did, and I’m glad I did. Anya Ulinich has a distinct drawing style. It approaches Emil Ferris’ at times (My Favorite Thing Is Monsters), but nobody is as good as Emil Ferris. The story follows Russian-born, thirty-something Lena Finkle’s reentrance into the dating scene after splitting up with her husband of 13 years. Lena tries online dating services and dating guys she meets around NYC with humorous results. If the book were just about these experiences, I would rate it higher, but there is too much other junk mixed in. Lots of pining for a Russian man back in Moscow, for example, and lots and lots of text-dense philosophizing. Pages and pages chock full of words. Sometimes less can be more, Anya.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Olavia Kite

    Sooo tedious, I don't know how I got through it. The main character's "introspection" just goes on and on and on, offering nothing of substance. And then the book ends. Just like that. Plus, the art's just not that great—except for the ducklings. Those are beautiful and I'm glad they made an appearance page after page. Sooo tedious, I don't know how I got through it. The main character's "introspection" just goes on and on and on, offering nothing of substance. And then the book ends. Just like that. Plus, the art's just not that great—except for the ducklings. Those are beautiful and I'm glad they made an appearance page after page.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Wendi

    My first inclination is to write that this graphic novel is a fantastic representation of the immigrant experience but, although I've never actually said or written that phrase immigrant experience, it immediately feels to me like a cliché and too much like slapping a label on the novel.It is about being an immigrant to the United States, but it's also about sex and love and friendship and illusions and reality and being a single mother while dealing with all of these things. Penguin gave me the My first inclination is to write that this graphic novel is a fantastic representation of the immigrant experience but, although I've never actually said or written that phrase immigrant experience, it immediately feels to me like a cliché and too much like slapping a label on the novel.It is about being an immigrant to the United States, but it's also about sex and love and friendship and illusions and reality and being a single mother while dealing with all of these things. Penguin gave me the opportunity to read Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel, and it's a graphic novel that reminds me of why I love these books (and also why some of them I pick up just don't match up with my graphic novel preferences). As best I can tell, Lena Finkle is, in fact, a novel, not a memoir, but given the character's background and physical appearance in comparison with the author's appearance and background, I wondered throughout the narrative how much of the story is fiction and how much of it may be memoir. I typically prefer these graphic memoirs over the strictly fiction novels.It is, with certainty, though, presented as a fictional novel. Lena is an immigrant from Russia, twice married and divorced with two daughters. She's still in love with her high school boyfriend back in Russia, and a longtime friend advises her she's had too few lovers and needs to get out in the world to better understand men and dating. She dives into online dating but the man she falls in love with (The Orphan) is one she meets on a train. He's reading a short story by Bernard Malamud about a man, Leo Finkle, who hires a marriage broker to find him a wife. The broker claims to have an "entire barrel" of eligible potential brides. This is where the title of the graphic novel comes from: the men Lena dates comprise her own magic barrel.(view spoiler)[As a reader, I really couldn't see what Lena saw in The Orphan, but isn't this often how it works? We love our girlfriends, think we understand them, and are baffled at the men they choose. However, this lack of insight didn't stop me from empathizing with her when her heart is broken. Her obsession with what happened is represented graphically with an injured duckling, a wounded and confused creature who can't stay away from the object of her affections, even as she sees he's just hurting her more, even as she sees it's hopeless.There's a scene of a conversation between Lena and The Orphan in which The Orphan tells her a story from his childhood. While reading the novel, I immediately withdrew from this scene, as I - and likely anyone who reads it will do the same - instantly recognized the story as taken from an old (real-life) movie. At the time, I thought that maybe Ulinich just used this scene from the movie believing readers wouldn't recognize it as such, but I've since re-evaluated its purpose. Lena herself never recognizes this story for what it is, but because the reader does, we can how The Orphan uses her, how he recognized her naiveté as an immigrant who may not have seen such a well known American movie as a way to manipulate her emotions. I wish I'd realized this while actually reading the book, as it likely would've colored everything I read thereafter. (hide spoiler)]Artistically, my favourite thing about the images in Lena is how Ulinich represents the protagonist's past with rawer, cruder sketches, while the contemporary story is presented with more elegant drawings. So even when there's a flashback within the same page, the reader can easily distinguish the time period.I enjoyed this graphic novel so much; I'm disappointed to see that Ulinich's first novel was not a graphic one. But the story itself was strong enough to consider her debut, and I'll certainly look forward to her next illustrated novel (or memoir!)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Wayne McCoy

    'Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel' by Anya Ulinich belongs alongside all the other realist graphic novels like those by Lynda Barry, Harvey Pekar and Marjane Satrapi. I found it a good read.The story follows Lena Finkle, who emigrated from Russia as a child. As a divorced mother of two, she is trying to get back into dating again. She is also coming to terms with her old country and the man she left behind. Online dating encounters are described in broad terms with characters like the Orphan, Disaster 'Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel' by Anya Ulinich belongs alongside all the other realist graphic novels like those by Lynda Barry, Harvey Pekar and Marjane Satrapi. I found it a good read.The story follows Lena Finkle, who emigrated from Russia as a child. As a divorced mother of two, she is trying to get back into dating again. She is also coming to terms with her old country and the man she left behind. Online dating encounters are described in broad terms with characters like the Orphan, Disaster Man and the Vampire of Bensonhurst. She spends a lot of time talking it out with friends and herself. Her conscience shows up as a small version of herself, scolding her for saying and doing things. Her conversations with her mother are painfully funny. Will she find a way to happiness or be miserable forever?The story could have felt really whiny, but the self-deprecating humor was touching and kept the story moving along. It's a long graphic novel and the dialogue takes up much of each panel. There are a lot of story elements that might have been too confusing, but Ulinich deftly keeps everything balanced. It's funny and intelligent and kept me turning pages.I was given a review copy of this graphic novel by Penguin Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this fine graphic novel.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    I picked up this book knowing nothing about it, just wanted a graphic novel to read on the plane and it hooked me with its story of a woman dating again after divorce (which is exactly what I'm doing right now). I kept forgetting this was a novel. It felt so real, so fully-conceived, that I would have to see the author's name before I remembered that Lena was not real. Lena's story is completely different from mine, but that had a lot to do with why I liked it. An immigrant as a child who marrie I picked up this book knowing nothing about it, just wanted a graphic novel to read on the plane and it hooked me with its story of a woman dating again after divorce (which is exactly what I'm doing right now). I kept forgetting this was a novel. It felt so real, so fully-conceived, that I would have to see the author's name before I remembered that Lena was not real. Lena's story is completely different from mine, but that had a lot to do with why I liked it. An immigrant as a child who married young, she knows virtually nothing of love and sex, so we get to see her learn about these things as an adult.This is a graphic novel that knows how to use the form, but it isn't one that's beautiful. But the style suits the material and I was totally rapt.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    This was perfect. As another reviewer says, Anya Ulinich is so good at blending humor and seriousness, and I don't know why she isn't better known. She's only written one other novel besides this, but both are doozies. Her previous novel followed the mis-adventures of a young girl growing up in Russia and coming to America as a mail-order bride. In Magic Barrel the Russian emigre is settled in Brooklyn, has older hipster friends and is dating as a single mother following a bad divorce. And this This was perfect. As another reviewer says, Anya Ulinich is so good at blending humor and seriousness, and I don't know why she isn't better known. She's only written one other novel besides this, but both are doozies. Her previous novel followed the mis-adventures of a young girl growing up in Russia and coming to America as a mail-order bride. In Magic Barrel the Russian emigre is settled in Brooklyn, has older hipster friends and is dating as a single mother following a bad divorce. And this one has artwork! And it's all great.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    Given the 5 months I've had this in my possession from the NYPL, it's clear it took me some time to get into Lena's tale. But once it hooked me, it hooked me good - and I inhaled the rest of the book in mere hours. I certainly didn't *want* to relate to Lena's woes in the world of Manhattan's fickle online dating scene- but boy did I. Painfully so - but also satisfyingly so. The stories recounted were so real and vivid that I found myself shocked at the end that the tale wasn't actually a graphi Given the 5 months I've had this in my possession from the NYPL, it's clear it took me some time to get into Lena's tale. But once it hooked me, it hooked me good - and I inhaled the rest of the book in mere hours. I certainly didn't *want* to relate to Lena's woes in the world of Manhattan's fickle online dating scene- but boy did I. Painfully so - but also satisfyingly so. The stories recounted were so real and vivid that I found myself shocked at the end that the tale wasn't actually a graphic memoir a la Fun Home...

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