I think Adrian Tomine's Killing and Dying is the best comic of 2015 and might even make it on my personal Top 5 of the year list alongside some outstanding novels. It's a fantastic example of the comics-as-literature concept that was such a new thing ten or so years ago: Tomine's stories would fit in effortlessly into a Paris Review and unflinchingly boast a literary prowess that could match that of authors like George Saunders, Donald Antrim and James Salter.
I wrote a long review over at Run Spot Run which can be read here. The book is a must for any fan of comics and contemporary fiction, and particularly keen readers will find a astonishing level of formal play at work in the collection's six stories. I highly recommend it.
Tomine was signing books at the Park Slope Holiday Book Fair this past Saturday, although I missed him on account of running int the Brooklyn "Jingle Bell Jog" at Prospect Park this past Saturday (and the subsequent slow brunch with fellow tired friends). However, I was able to pick up a signed-and-drawn-in copy of Killing and Dying from The Strand that was leftover from an earlier event. Pretty cool: this is "Barry" from "Go Owls":
Now, a digression: where is Killing and Dying on the New York Times' list of Notable Books of 2015? While I haven't seen today's book review, I think A.O. Scott's rave review ran in the same issue that they narrowed down their terrible list of top picks for the year to five each for fiction and non-fiction. Scott calls the title story (1/6 of the entire collection!) "one of the saddest and most perfect things I've ever read" ... but that's not good enough to be "notable"? To edge out the frankly pretty terrible Purity and God Help the Child, included likely due to their legacy alone? For that matter, where's Amitav Ghosh's Flood of Fire, Ander Monson's Letter to a Future Lover, Tom McCarthy's Satin Island, etc., etc., etc.? I'm currently reading Ludmila Ulitskaya's outstanding novel The Big Green Tent, and I feel like I'm the only person on the planet who's doing so. Where are its rave reviews? Maybe all of these will do what Richard McGuire's outstanding 2014 book Here did and appear on the NYT best-of list for the following year. Here's hoping for a notable 2016.
Ludmila Ulitskaya, The Big Green Tent
Currently listening to:
The Vince Guaraldi Trio