Friday, October 23, 2009

Stitches by David Small

David Small is an award winning children's author. This memoir in graphic novel format tells the story of David's dysfunctional family from his point of view, as a very imaginative small child. Many of the drawings have no words to accompany them at all, but they don't need them either. They are dark and fearful and funny and sweet and the expressions in the eyes and on the faces will tug at your heart. This is a very emotional book. It is also the artwork that elevates this dark work to an extraordinary level. This story is best told in the graphic novel format, rather than between the pages of a conventional book.

David's father was a radiologist who subjected him to so many unnecessary X-rays for minor ailments that it gave him cancer. David's mother simply did not love him. We find out at the end of the book that there were extenuating circumstances that contributed to her behavior, but I can't fathom how hurtful this must have been for a small child. David's maternal grandmother was crazy and had to be committed. David's older brother was always off to himself in his room playing his drums.

This is a brave and honest recital of his childhood that is a lovely sardonic read. And here's a quote from the back of the book on the page that tells you a little bit more about his mother: "Nobody heard her tears; the heart is a fountain of weeping water which makes no noise in the world." [Edward Dahlberg]

This was a brutal, poignant, and brilliant book.

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