April 4, 2016

Killing and Dying

I linger upon every page of Killing and Dying, upon every hand-drawn cell, much after I finish reading the text that marks the story. For a graphic novel so short, I spend more time with it than I do with pieces of fiction twice its length, and I find myself coming back to each page, each story repeatedly; I find something new with each re-read.

It is hard to write about Adrian Tomine’s collection of graphic short stories in the same manner as one would write about most novels, or even graphic novels. Instead, the book is analogous to film, where nuance and narrative is hidden in the corners of the visual landscape. Killing and Dying is truly cinematic; each drawing resonates long after you have turned the page, and each story — Tomine is a masterful chronicler of the human condition — is served well by the uncomplicated yet rich illustrations.

Do not be deterred by the title: Killing and Dying is really about life, about navigating the emotions that mark our days but that often get pushed aside in our effort to get through the moment. Do not be deterred by the fact that this is a graphic novel: Killing and Dying is more than an assembly of illustrations, but instead a cinematic vision of the world which we inhabit but so rarely truly notice.

Pick up this book, and spend some time with it. It is short at first blush, but it is rich in depth and delight. It will linger, stay with you for a long time.

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