‘Exquisite Corpse’ is More Charming Than the Title Implies

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Exquisite Corpse CoverZoe is not the brightest crayon in the box. After realizing her life as a tradeshow model is a dead-end job filled with sexual harassment and low respect, she begins to look at all the other factors of her life. Her unemployed slacker boyfriend wants sex, calls her a bitch constantly and spends most of his time farting around; literally. Frustrated, Zoe finds herself sitting alone in a park in Paris and contemplating what to do. She looks up at an apartment window and notices an attractive man staring at her. The two begin talking after Zoe knocks on his door and they strike up a friendship that turns to romance. Not being an intellectual, Zoe hardly recognizes the fact that her new beau is the famous author Thomas Rocher. Zoe is irritated by their lack of public life, not realizing that he is supposed to be dead and that all of his writing success has been considered to be posthumous. Zoe discovers the elaborate ruse and works to get her revenge and change her life.

Penelope Bagieu’s graphic novel, Exquisite Corpse, has an unfortunate name. Years of reading horror novels has logged that title as something far creepier that Poppy Z. Brite wrote years ago. However, Bagieu’s graphic novel is a charming look into the narcissism that fame can bring and the dangers of basing your life on the opinions of others. Thomas Rocher commits the number one sin of writers: he reads his reviews and takes all of them personally. Zoe’s struggle is difficult to read in the beginning as so many of her problems appear to be from sheer indifference regarding her own life. Her lack of intelligence is at times painful, and the reader wishes desperately she would wise up. I did like her change of style towards the end, where with a little help Zoe works to better herself.

Exquisite Corpse is cute, adorably illustrated and a quick read.

Exquisite Corpse is available from First Second Books May 5, 2015.

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