Same Difference and Other Stories – Derek Kirk Kim
In a series of short graphic stories, Kim takes on young adulthood, morality and racism with some autobiography mixed in. “Same Difference,” the longest story of the collection, follows two friends as they try to figure out what to do about a host of mis-delivered (and possibly stalker-ish) love letters.
After reading The Eternal Smile and really enjoying it, I thought I’d give Same Difference and Other Stories a try. I was really into it at the start–“Same Difference” was a great story, and I also really liked “Hurdles” and “Pulling.” Your art in this book has a fluid yet solid quality to it that I really enjoy. After “Pulling,” though, it seemed like the stories took a turn. They got much shorter, more angry, looser–not to mention more vulgar–and though I could have enjoyed them on their own, I was thrown off by the dissimilarity of that angry tone compared with the earlier stories. The thematic shift was a little too drastic to make the whole thing cohere as a collection–the shorter first-person stories felt like they were just tossed on to add page length.
That said, I do appreciate the honesty, and sometimes brutality, of those first-person stories. Racial discrimination and young adulthood confusion aren’t always pretty or poetic or comfortable, and you certainly captured that (along with an almost disturbing lack of self-worth). Still, I wish the collection had flowed as a whole. Four stars!