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Review: Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina captures digital zeitgeist with chilling insight

Drawn and Quarterly

Sabrina by Nick Drnaso

Drawn & Quarterly, 204 pages, $32.95

What it’s about: A young woman’s grisly disappearance is the fulcrum around which everything churns in Drnaso’s consummate sophomore outing. Sabrina’s boyfriend, Teddy, pole-axed by grief, holes up in his former buddy Calvin’s condo. A newly single U.S. airman, Calvin is ill-equipped to deal with such trauma – or the increasingly unhinged online conspiracy theories that beset the two friends and Sabrina’s sister.

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What you see here: Drnaso’s diagrammatic recreations of the ways we interface with our devices – gaming (as here), Skyping, texting, streaming – carry with them an authentic shock of recognition. The artist’s panels, like our day-to-day lives, become imbricated with the digital in upsetting, invisible ways.

Read if you like: Michael Haneke’s Caché, Chris Ware’s Lint, Don DeLillo’s The Body Artist or seeing an author capture the zeitgeist with such chilling insight that his book is now the first graphic novel ever to appear on the Man Booker Prize long list. Drnaso is a compassionate guide through today’s toxic atmosphere of rabid hate and humming dread.

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