Rutu Modan’s serialized comic, The Murder of the Terminal Patient, wrapped up in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago, which means the entire 17-chapter work is now available online. The format is a little annoying — each chapter, which was original a page in the Times Magazine, is a separate PDF. But the aggravation is worth it to read the story, particularly for free.
Exit Wounds book coverIf you’re not familiar with Modan’s work, drop whatever you’re doing and find yourself a copy of her Eisner Award winning novel Exit Wounds. Exit Woundsfollows a frustrating day in the life of an Israeli guy trying to figure out whether or not his estranged father might have been the victim of that day’s terror attack. (And, in a particularly Israeli twist, this takes place on a day when there were two attacks, and no one seems to know or care about this particular one in the shadow of a larger attack in Haifa.) Modan’s sparse, evocative line work makes it easy to get lost in the story, and her focus on the realities of the situation rather than the politics leave the reader with a lot to chew on long after the book is closed.
The Muder of the Terminal Patient gives us a very different (but still very Israeli) story in the form of a murder mystery. Instead of a detective, our protagonist is a doctor, but naturally, because he is an immigrant from Russia, he’s working as a nurse. Because the story was written to be serialized, the pacing features lots of cliffhangers and minimal character development.  However, with a victim named Lev (“heart”) and a grieving widow named Tikvah (“hope”), I’m not sure we’re supposed to see these figures as “characters” in the traditional sense anyway.  But if we do read this as a parable, what might it mean for the heart of Israel to expire… particularly in the way revealed at the end of the story… and what might hope look like after grieving is done?

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