Ian’s a drifter who looks like he could be any age between twenty and fifty, with hollowed-out eyes that have seen entirely too much. And yet he has a oddly naïve, wide-eyed approach to life — naïve enough that one day when he’s crashed out on a street somewhere, he says yes when a teenage girl approaches him and asks him to be a stand-in for her boyfriend to distract her crazy father. Then before either of them quite realize how tangled things have just become, Ian’s lying on the floor of a public restroom, dying from a stab wound to the stomach.
not simple begins with Ian’s lurid death and then leaps backwards across decades to show us how he fell this far through life. He’s been the victim of bad luck, says his friend Jim — a reporter-turned-novelist whose life has intersected with Ian’s on and off for years. Jim’s hatched the idea of turning the other man’s life story into a novel, the sort of thing no one would believe if it were fiction. And yet not simple, which is that story itself, is entirely credible from beginning to end — not because of what happens but because of how it’s told, and how the people it all happens to respond to it. It’s to most manga what intelligent indie films like You Can Count On Me or Chop Shop are to gaudy digital kitsch like Transformers or Avatar. Read more