Book Review: Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine

Killing and Dying

Title: Killing and Dying

Author: Adrian Tomine

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Short Stories

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Killing and Dying is a collection of six short stories about relationships, identity and loss – and indeed, the title can apply to all three at time.

It is quite an eclectic assortment of stories.  In the first story, A Brief History of the Art Form Known as “Hortisculpture”, a man puts his marriage on the line chasing his obsessive vision of selling plant sculptures.  In another, a girl who shares an uncanny resemblance with a porn star tells the story of how it has affected her life.  The stories are very different, but they all share a kind of rawness – real people dealing with real problems.

My favourite story in the collection was Killing and Dying – for whatever reason it seemed to impact me the most.  In the story, a cynical man’s daughter takes classes in stand up comedy.  He fears she will be humiliated, as she stutters under stress, but when her mother passes away he decides to support her nonetheless.  The ending in particular was very moving, and the story as a whole was certainly worthy of its name on the cover.

Go Owls, the longest story in the book, was also very powerful.  It is about a girl and older man who meet at a support group, which quickly develops into an abusive relationship.  It is easy to overlook the early signs of abuse, but reading it through a second time it is apparent from the start that the older man has some issues.

This is an almost flawless collection that approached the graphic novel in a whole new way.  I’ll definitely be seeking out more of Adrian Tomine’s work – I think he is a genius.

Star Rating: ★★★★★ (5)


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