Friday, 21 December 2018

Taxi Tales: The Fragrant Lady by Ergun Gunduz


Taxi Tales: The Fragrant Lady by Ergun Gunduz
Published in Turkish as Taksi Hikayeleri - Mis Kokulu Kadın in Turkey by Marmara Cizgi in March 2018. English language translation by Cem Ulgen published by Europe Comics in November 2018.

Featured in Cover Characteristics: Eyes

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


"The Fragrant Lady” is a tale that brings to life the recollections of an old gentleman in the back seat of Yalcin’s cab. The man tells of the time he spent with an enviable French woman named Floré during the silver age of Istanbul. His too-good-to-be-true story unravels with rich illustrations by Ergün Gündüz, which are throwbacks to the days of urban glamor in Beyoglu, in stark contrast with the current state of the district.

Taxi Tales appealed to me because I hadn't seen a Turkish graphic novel before and I felt I would like its artwork based on the beautiful front cover design. The rich colours continue throughout the story and I did indeed love Gunduz' illustrations. He includes fascinating small details such as leaves in the wind or a glimpse of a vintage street sign, and can impart emotions to the reader pretty well too. I was a bit confused that Flore, our heroine, seemed to have two or three significantly different faces and I thought more effort could have been put into continuity, however this wasn't a major issue.

What disappointed me about Taxi Tales was its bland chauvinistic storyline. One night an elderly man gets into the taxi-cab and tells his story to the driver, a story of meeting a French artist, Flore, in 1950s Istanbul. Sounds interesting so far, but instead of getting to discover 1950s Istanbul (or even French art) we are simply shown them having great sex then the man spies on Flore having more sex with a woman whose portrait she was painting. Finally Flore covers up her implausibly large breasts and leaves town without so much as a goodbye. And that's it.

I understand that the idea of this series is to tell short stories, such as one might hear during a taxi ride, in a graphic novel format and I suppose that is exactly what we get here. However I couldn't help but feel that all the effort that went into the illustrations was wasted on such a shallow narrative. I wouldn't read any more Taxi Tales on the strength of this one, though I might in future look into a different offering of Gunduz' art.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Ergun Gunduz / Graphic novels / Books from Turkey

12 comments:

  1. I don't know if this one would be a good fit for me, but I love how her eyes are reflected in the rearview mirror. They're so blue and striking! However, the "bland chauvinistic storyline" would really annoy me. Like you, I would have loved more details about where they were!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

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    1. It was the cover image that caught me too. Inside the art is fab too, but I just felt it needed a much stronger and more unique storyline to complement the images

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  2. Not my kind of book but sorry to hear you didn't like it more.

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  3. Oh yes, I agree about the promise in this one when it speaks of a lush past history in Istanbul, but barely gets past every day titillation, pun intended.
    At least the graphics and the concept of the short Taxi ride length tales worked.

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    1. Yes, worth the read for the artwork because it was a NetGalley find, but I'd have been very disappointed had I bought this and I don't think it bodes well for any more in the series

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  4. I think I would have to pass on this one. It sounds like it was rather disappointing.

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  5. It honestly took me a moment to realise that the cover wasn't a photograph! Too bad the story fell short for you.

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    1. T'was a shame because that cover is amazing. I keep pausing to appreciate it every time it appears as I scroll my blog!

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  6. Ooh, I've never read a Turkish graphic novel either so I can see why this one called to you. I really like the sound of the beautiful artwork and colours, but it's a shame how bland the storyline turned out to be in the end :/

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