Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine

Killing and Dying: Stories by Adrian Tomine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hovering somewhere between literary fiction, comic, short story, and ‘crisp, stark ruminations about life’, Killing and Dying has left me a little bit breathless. I found it almost by accident in the library and picked it up because I am always here for comics and I am always here for people who find something rather intensely personal and distinct to do with the form. This feels precise and sharp and crafted and I respond to that; I like stuff where I can feel the thought and intent behind every line.

So what is it? Technically it’s a collection of stories about living. They cover life and loss, love and art, hope and sorrow, and pretty much everything in between. They are short and precisely told, unafraid of an exit that leaves you wanting more or of a frame that makes you double back and question everything you witnessed before. Killing and Dying, the titular short story, is perhaps the most stunning in that area, giving you a quiet and sharp sudden disruption that made me literally gasp. It reminded me somehow of reading When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs., that visceral moment of feeling a text inside your very soul.

It’s perhaps useful to think of Killing And Dying as a cracked kaleidoscope: it reflects and illuminates and some of it works better than others and somehow you can see all of that as you for along. I loved the mournful grace and eloquent space of ‘Translated, from the Japanese’ and I was frustrated by it at the same time and then I got to thinking about well maybe that was the point. And that discussion, that little twist of thought about these fragments of life, is something that I value a lot.

Maybe it’s worth getting lost in the library because it ends up in you being found.

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