EXCUSE ME by Liana Finck

EXCUSE ME

Cartoons, Complaints, and Notes to Self
by illustrated by
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A New Yorker cartoonist gathers more than 500 of her pieces from that magazine, other publications, and Instagram.

Though she has been writing and drawing for years, Finck experienced a breakthrough of sorts with her impressively multilayered graphic memoir, Passing for Human (2018). Here, the author provides one or two simple sketches or lists per page, ranging across such sections as “Love and Dating,” “Gender Politics and Politics in General,” “Animals,” “Art & Myth-Making,” and “Time, Space, and How to Navigate Them.” As with many collections of cartoons from illustrators, comedians, or other artists, the quality here varies widely. Further culling would have been welcome (especially in the “Notes to Self” section, which many readers may skim); some of the cartoons feel rushed or even unfinished. However, when she hits, Finck is incisive in her observations of modern life—e.g., two nearly identical sketches of someone typing on their phone; one caption says “Work,” and the other says “Fun.” While Finck is certainly in line with Roz Chast when it comes to expressing anxiety and neurosis (“Can everyone else stop doing anything while I figure out what’s paralyzing me?”) in an approachable, even appealing manner, Finck is also sharp in her exposures of hypocrisy and double standards, especially when it comes to gender relations—e.g., an old man and old woman standing side by side, and the caption under the woman reads, “Too old to been seen as sexual,” while under the man, “Too old to be blamed for hitting on everyone.” Or a woman saying to a man, “I don’t want your last name. Can I have your sense of entitlement instead?” As a two-color paperback, the book should serve well as a holiday gift for fans of Chast, New Yorker cartoons, and droll humor delivered in bite-size chunks.

A serviceable place holder while we await more from this talented artist.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-984801-51-7
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2019