And during the trip I listened to this song over and over again.
Issue: January 1, 2010
Joe and Azat.
Lonergan, Jesse (Author)
Nov 2009. 104 p. NBM/ComicsLit, paperback, $10.95. (9781561635702). 741.5.
Lonergan’s clean, sharp lines, minimal backgrounds, and pure black and white (no grays, not even via shading) make another story of a youthful, probably temporary relationship vivid and affecting. Whereas Flower and Fade (2007) recounted a six-month love affair, this book portrays a cross-cultural friendship within a two-year Peace Corps stint. While American Joe is in Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic ruled by a quixotic strongman, he makes a good friend in English-proficient Azat. Like everyone else’s in Turkmenistan, it seems, Azat’s image of America derives from movies and TV. At least he understands when Joe corrects his misapprehensions, and his indefatigable optimism ensures his bouncing back when Joe bursts the bubbles, particularly the get-rich-quick schemes, which Azat inflates by trying to apply “American” thinking to Turkmeni reality. The country being Muslim, nobody dates, but there are a lot of weddings and even more vodka-slamming with the guys—practices that culminate in Azat’s bewildering to Joe but characteristically raucous wedding the day before a black-eyed Joe (Azat’s truculent older brother finally clocks him) must leave. Altogether excellent.
— Ray Olson