Wednesday, August 22, 2007

exit wounds, by rutu modan

Rutu Modan's 'Exit Wounds' is, firstly, a particularly beautiful graphic novel. Modan, who can do a lot more than just draw, creates an intricate, colourful representation of the private lives of two Israeli adults drawn together by a shared interest in the whereabouts of Gabriel, who they believe was the 17th, and unidentified, victim of a suicide bombing in Hadera. Her drawings are crisp and clean, full of bold curved lines and coloured in gorgeous sepia tones. Her closely aligned frames and compositions somehow make me think of old Tintin comics.
But her plotting is thoroughly contemporary, drawing out the small-scale dramas at the heart of a society littered with tragic events, where death and disappearance are daily possibilities. Without once referring to the Israeli-Arab situation, the author draws compelling parallels in everyday life, conjuring up the sprectre of victimhood and the painful, unmet desire for solutions, always out of reach.

Yet personal, rather than societal politics form the centre of 'Exit Wounds'. For Koby, whose relationship with his father is long deteriorated, it is coming to terms with this fractured love. For Numi, the young woman who was his lover, it is coming to terms with his absence, and the fact that, too plain and unwieldy, she is always overlooked. Worse is to come, and the two must come together and seek resolutions to their problems. Though the process is painful, they do make progress. So while 'Exit Wounds' is always imbued with sadness, Modan lets us have a few, beautiful and optimistic frames with which to close.

If only real life mirrored this better.

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