Thursday, December 24, 2015

"Killing and Dying," by Adrian Tomine

I have read and posted about several graphic novels over the years, finding some of them amazingly creative and of high literary quality. One of the best known American graphic fiction writers, some of whose work I have read, is Adrian Tomine. I have just read his most recent book, a collection of six short stories in graphic form. It has an off-putting title, “Killing and Dying” (Drawn & Quarterly, 2015), but the stories are about seemingly small-scale, quirky and rather sad topics. A man spends years of his life trying to sell the odd and unpromising idea of “hortisculpture.” A young woman receives unwanted attention everywhere because of her resemblance to a porn star. A man secretly goes into someone else’s apartment regularly, always leaving it the way he found it. A nerdy young girl decides to be a stand-up comic, despite her parents’ lack of faith that she has talent. The stories and drawings are full of the small, revealing details that show us people’s characters, interactions, failings, hopefulness, deceptions, and self-deceptions. It is possible to read these stories fairly quickly for the plots, but it is worthwhile to force oneself to slow down and savor the details of the words and, especially, the drawings.
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