cover image Second Hand Love

Second Hand Love

Yamada Murasaki, trans. from the Japanese by Ryan Holmberg. Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95 trade paper (228p) ISBN 978-1-77046-718-7

With this exquisite collection, Murasaki (Talk to My Back), who died in 2009, shores up her legacy as one of the most insightful and captivating creators of alternative manga in the 1970s and ’80s. Most of the book comprises the masterfully understated graphic novel A Blue Flame, which tells the story of an affair in a series of searing vignettes. The protagonist, Emi, is seeing a married man she sometimes perceives as a predatory “wolf,” other times as “my shadow.” Having ended things with her sexually disinterested fiancé, she dodges men’s efforts to draw her into a more conventional relationship. “Who needs security when you have warmth?” she asks herself, but as the affair wears on she decides that neither is as important as self-respect. The title story follows Yuko, a café owner whose relationships with men are clouded by memories of her father’s infidelity. Also included are illustrations drawn for Mita Masahiro’s 1997 novel A Loving Family and a 1985 interview with Murasaki, whose loose but impeccably clean linework matches the raw simplicity of her storytelling. The result is a perfect introduction to Murasaki’s heady feminist dramas. (June)