Killing and Dying
With this work, Adrian Tomine (Shortcomings, New York Drawings) reaffirms his place not only as one of the most significant creators of contemporary comics, but as one of the great voices of modern American literature.
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In his first full length work since Shortcomings in 2007, Adrian Tomine has produced another unforgettable collection of stories and characters: ‘Amber Sweet’ shows the disastrous impact of mistaken identity in a hyper-connected world; ‘A Brief History of the Art Form Known as Hortisculpture’ details the invention and destruction of a vital new art form in short comic strips; ‘Translated, from the Japanese’ is a lush, full-colour display of storytelling through still images; ‘Intruders’ depicts a man obsessively trying to find his way back to a former life.
From the master of the small gesture, it is a fraught, realist masterpiece about the weight of love and its absence, the pride and disappointment of family, the anxiety and hopefulness of being alive in the twenty-first century.
Adrian Tomine can draw, think, write and feel. He sees everything, he knows everything; he's in your apartment, he's on the subway, he's in your dreams. He knows about ageing baseball fans and delusional horticulturists, he knows useless fathers and awkward nerd-girl stand-ups, he knows the single and the married, the mad and the sane, he knows zines and hardback 'graphic novels,' knows when to use a speech a bubble and when silence is enough. He has more ideas in twenty panels than novelists have in a lifetime.
The most mature and sharp work of Tomine's career ... "Killing and Dying", is the collection's finest, and may even be the finest short story ever written/drawn in comics ... Tomine crams more real, actual human life into 22 pages than most novelists get into 200. Just like life, the best stories don't provide "closure" but open outwards, and "Killing and Dying" does just that. Few works of art in any medium have brought tears to my eyes, but the last four panels of this one do. It's a story that gets down so deeply to the heart of where stories come from that there's no way to get back out without tearing something inside.
If I had to describe Adrian Tomine to someone who didn't know his work, I would call him - I can't possibly conjure any higher praise - the Alice Munro of comics. But not even this quite does it. Tomine's characters and situations are more various than Munro's, and the emotional concision of his stories even more miraculous.
These are stories about ordinary lives, drawn and scripted with acuity, wit and precision ... This quietly extraordinary book has earned its place among the year's best fiction in any medium.
Utterly beguiling. Tomine's storytelling avoids sentimentality like the plague, and yet he somehow evokes deep empathy and emotions through his sparseness and brevity.
Each of the six stories has a unique aesthetic. Tomine throws plot shifts and takes your full attention for granted. An absolute treasure.
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