February 24th, 2010
Small, an award-winning childrens book illustrator, here puts his artistic talents to use in this graphic novel depiction of the story of his own childhood. His father was an emotionally stilted radiologist who bombarded the sickly David with “healing” x-rays in his youth. His mother was a frigid, unhappy closeted lesbian who never showed her children any love. His grandmother was cranky, judgmental, and quite possibly crazy. Growing up in this deeply dysfunctional household, art was David’s only real refuge…especially after the operation at age 14 to remove a growth from David’s neck. The operation, supposedly routine, left David with only half of his vocal cords and functionally mute for years. Later, David discovered the reason: the “growth” on his neck was actually cancer caused by his father’s supposed “treatments” of radiation, but the cancer had been kept secret from him at the time. Bitter, angry, and depressed, it took a caring psychiatrist and a surprisingly simple truth to allow David to move on. The black-and-white artwork accompanying the story is evocative, perceptive, and, at times, almost hallucinatory as they depict the imagination of a young boy attempting to make sense of situations beyond his easy comprehension. Many segments are entirely wordless, with the images alone ably carrying the weight of the plot. Compelling, powerful, and, in the end, cathartic.
Find Stitches in our catalog.