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Kim Tomsic

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Body Expresses What the Voice Won't Utter: STITCHES

One look at author/illustrator David Small and you know he is a man who has overcome powerful circumstances. You know this not by something that smacks you in the face, but by his energy. It speaks a combination of grief, survival, relief, humor and freedom.  

STITCHES, a National Book Award nominee, is Small's autobiography presented as a graphic novel.  

Small takes you on an emotional journey in STITCHES. He grew up in an abusive home. At age fourteen another layer of tragedy was added to his strained existence when a tumor was discovered growing in his neck. Small, who had no real voice in his home, now had a tumor that left him literally speechless for more than a year.

He eventually gained back his ability to speak, grew up, moved out, got married, and started a career. But the tumor would not be dismissed; it insisted on haunting him again. It was when he was dining with his wife at the Fisher Lake Inn that he discovered the horrible bump in his neck had returned. Psychosomatic or not, he and his wife could visiually see the growth that sprouted over the course of a meal...or a lifetime. It occured to Small that he had dealt with his trauma medically, but he had never dealt with it emotionally...until he wrote STITCHES. He says, "the body expresses what the voice won't utter."

Small says he received healing through writing and illustrating his graphic memoir.
The story is literal and figurative: his voicelessness .As an armchair-psychologist, this tumor, which prevented him from speaking, is why he can dramatically express a wealth of emotions in a single sketch.

"David Small's STITCHES is aptly named. With surgical precision, the author pierces into the past and, with great artistry, seals the wound inflicted on a small child by cruel and unloving parents. STITCHES is as intensely dramatic as a woodcut novel of the silent movie era and as fluid as a contemporary Japanese manga. It breaks new ground for graphic novels. "   
Francoise Mouly — Art Editor, The New Yorker — Editorial Director, TOON Books

Stitches was nominated for the National Book Award under the category of young people's literature in 2009.

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393068579
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393068573
  • $15.95 Paperback/ $24.95 Hardcover list price
Tattered Cover
 Powell's Books 
Barnes and Noble


picky girl said...

This book was incredibly horrifying and redemptive all at once. I thought it was magnificent when I read it last year.

And - just because I would want someone to tell me - may want to correct David's name.

Love the review!

Kim Tomsic said...

Pinky Girl...help! What do you mean correct David's name? What am I missing?
And thanks for the compliments!

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