Book review: cheat

cheatIf the title wasn't tipoff enough, the flirty glances between (married) Janey and (also married, but not to Janey) Davis on page four of Christine Norrie's graphic novel pretty much give it away.

As the story opens, Janey and her workaholic husband, Marc, are moving into a new apartment secured for them by their attractive friends, Anna and Davis, who live in the building. It's clear that the True Romance has gone out of Marc & Janey's marriage; five years of living and working together (Marc writes travel books which Janey coordinates marketing and publicity for) have taken their toll.

Having sexy Davis within easy reach (heh heh) is too much temptation for the attention-starved Janey. She pushes Marc the rest of the way out the door, metaphorically speaking, encouraging him to take the solo research trips she used to resent him for taking...and then, in a moment of drunken weakness, finally and fatally (for her marriage, anyway) gives in to the crush she's been nurturing.

Drawn and written in the over-the-top, sex-as-cautionary-tale style of the old romance comics, cheat feels breezy and disposable, the graphic novel equivalent of potato chips, but the glossy surface belies the gut-punch of the story's close. Perhaps it's because, dramatic design and impossibly pretty character drawings aside, the story behind cheat is small, sordid and true. Have I used the descriptor "Chekhovian" around here lately? I'll do so again. That krazy, konsumptive kossack knew that the mundane often makes for the most poignant and true storytelling.

cheat is a strange, sad little tale that uses an odd medium to sneak up on your emotions from behind. And damned successfully, I'd say.

Old Anton would be proud...


UPDATE (12/3/08): In a shameless and transparent act of caving, I've been replacing book and DVD links with Amazon affiliate links throughout the site. I MAKE MONEY WHEN YOU CLICK ON THESE. Like, a full 1/4 cent or something. Whatever. I'm happy if you borrow it from a friend or the library, or buy it used (I like and alibris online) or, praise Jeebus!, from your local independent dead tree retailer. Seriously. The main thing is, read. Absorb. Enjoy. Pass it on.