Peter Kolinsky is among the world's foremost experts on rare books, so expert that he had a prestigious job at one of the country's biggest auction houses, until black-market dealers took an interest in him. Since losing his job and narrowly avoiding jail time, Peter's lived a lonely life in a tiny apartment, with a menial publishing job he hates. Things look like they might turn around when, looking for a late-night snack, Peter wanders into Insomnia Café and meets Angela. She shows him the Archives, a library full of books in the process of being written by famous authors. It's a book lover's dream until Oblomov, the black marketer who ruined Peter's life, returns to pull Peter back into his business. On the run from Oblomov and possibly the law, will Peter find salvation in the Archives, or will his knowledge of its secrets doom him further?
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Best known in the U.S. as G. Willow Wilson's collaborator on Air and Cairo, Perker first serialized this book in Turkey, although it's got a distinct New York City setting and flavor. It's a patchwork mutt of a tale—partly a farcical adventure about a chronically tardy rare-book expert named Peter Kolinsky who's caught up in shady doings, partly a Borgesian fantasia involving an archive of not-yet-written books that disappear as soon as someone outside the building writes them. The book's tone keeps shifting, and the gruesome, metafictional final act doesn't quite fit with the whimsical mood of the rest of the story. Perker's finely detailed black-and-white linework holds it all together, however. His characters' features and bodies are exaggerated in the manner of editorial cartoons, with arrowhead noses or elongated skulls, but he imagines them so precisely and consistently that the overall effect is of a groggily misperceived city, where everything seems to be a little smeary. Perker suggests that a lifetime immersed in books can distort a reader's view of the world, and in fact the characters' names (Oblomov, Carlos Muñoz) often allude to his literary or artistic influences. The book's playfulness, referentiality, and stylishness don't quite make up for its wobbly plot. (Nov.)
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The Istanbul-born artist of the well-received comic book Air is no slouch at scripting, too. His first non-Turkish-language graphic novel tells a creepy tale with a creepy antihero. Long, lanky Peter Kolinski is a rare-book expert and an insomniac, trying to hold down a job at a book distributor for which he’s always way late. Laying low after being threatened out of his previous gig, he doesn’t get out much but does find the Insomnia Café. There he meets aspiring author Angela, who takes pity on him after a goon breaks his nose. She brings him to the Archives, a library of incomplete books (e.g., lots of aborted J. D. Salingers). As his nemesis and, after a coworker is killed, the cops close in, Peter steals something from the Archives and seals his fate as well as, completely inexplicably, Angela’s. Perker’s sharp-lined, angular black-and-white style, gift for complex facial expressions, and wary, alternately mean-spirited and cracked dialogue combine in a crackerjack realistic dark fantasy. --Ray Olson
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