Monday, June 30, 2008

Graphic Novel Monday: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, by Michele Alexander and Jeannie Long

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, by Michele Alexander and Jeannie Long. Published 1998 by Bantam Books. Click on the cover to buy from your local BookSense-affiliated independent bookseller.

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is a relationship book- or an anti-relationship book- in graphic novel form. It's not a classic graphic novel like others I've featured on Graphic Novel Monday- it's more the kind of book you pick up as a joke at hip clothing stores catering to college students and give someone as a gag gift. (Last summer I took a class on how to create a graphic novel, and I brought this book in to class as an example of my level of artistic skill. My instructor laughed at me- and he was right to do so.) It's more of a novelty-humor mini-book. It tells the reader how to make every conceivable dating mistake with a new boyfriend. Most likely anyone who follows this advice will end up in jail.

Yes, this book is the basis for the 2003 romantic comedy of the same name, which stars Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, but you'll be disappointed if you read this expecting a chick-lit novel- or any kind of novel. Unpaged, it clocks in at around 100 pages of crayon stick-figure sketches, much like what you see on the cover, accompanied by pithy one-liners of anti-relationship advice. The story starts on Day 1, when the woman meets her boyfriend. Of course the advice is to become intimate immediately. The reader is then advised to ask her new boyfriend on Day 2 if he thinks she has gained weight "since you've been dating"- yesterday. Basically the idea is to rush into relationships and force closeness before anyone is ready, and pummel your man with inappropriate attention until he finally relents and marries you. Finally by Day 10, as the relationship falls apart, the book advises the reader to fake a pregnancy and leave a poem and a long stemmed rose at his door- guaranteed to secure a wedding proposal after a week and a half of psychotic, stalkerish behavior.

The thing is, though, it works. (The book- not the advice!) It's hilarious. The combination of tongue-in-cheek, how-to-do-it-all-wrong advice and clever, crudely drawn pictures makes me crack up every time. I've never seen the movie, but what prompted me to talk about How to Lose a Guy was the number of folks who commented to me about it after last week's Tuesday Thingers, when I mentioned that for a while I was one of only two people on LibraryThing who owned the book. (Now it's up to 7 owners.) I guess I just wanted to make sure that, if anyone picks it up thinking it's going to be chick lit or a conventional novel, you know what you're getting yourself in to. Sometimes I can't believe that anyone ever decided to make a movie out of this little trifle- and then sometimes I admire the chutzpah of it and want to congratulate Alexander and Long on their success.