Stitches
One day David Small awoke from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he had been transformed into a virtual mute. A vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot, the fourteen-year-old boy had not been told that he had cancer and was expected to die.In Stitches, Small, the award-winning children’s illustrator and author, re-creates this terrifying event in a life story that might have been imagined by Kafka. As the images painfully tumble out, one by one, we gain a ringside seat at a gothic family drama where David—a highly anxious yet supremely talented child—all too often became the unwitting object of his parents’ buried frustration and rage.Believing that they were trying to do their best, David’s parents did just the reverse. Edward Small, a Detroit physician, who vented his own anger by hitting a punching bag, was convinced that he could cure his young son’s respiratory problems with heavy doses of radiation, possibly causing David’s cancer. Elizabeth, David’s mother, tyrannically stingy and excessively scolding, ran the Small household under a cone of silence where emotions, especially her own, were hidden.Depicting this coming-of-age story with dazzling, kaleidoscopic images that turn nightmare into fairy tale, Small tells us of his journey from sickly child to cancer patient, to the troubled teen whose risky decision to run away from home at sixteen—with nothing more than the dream of becoming an artist—will resonate as the ultimate survival statemen.

Stitches Details

TitleStitches
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 8th, 2009
PublisherW. W. Norton & Company
ISBN0393068579
ISBN-139780393068573
Number of pages329 pages
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Graphic Novels, Autobiography, Memoir, Comics, Nonfiction, Biography

Stitches Review

  • Jan Philipzig
    September 26, 2015
    Not sure how David Small's Stitches passed me by when originally published back in 2009 - I guess there are just too many fascinating comics coming out these days for me to keep up. Luckily, a few days ago I came across the title in a GR list of comic-book memoirs and finally ordered it from the library: what a revelation! Told in a sparse and subtle yet fluid and emotionally charged style, Small's coming-of-age memoir is as devastating as it is cathartic - the kind of book that stays with you l Not sure how David Small's Stitches passed me by when originally published back in 2009 - I guess there are just too many fascinating comics coming out these days for me to keep up. Luckily, a few days ago I came across the title in a GR list of comic-book memoirs and finally ordered it from the library: what a revelation! Told in a sparse and subtle yet fluid and emotionally charged style, Small's coming-of-age memoir is as devastating as it is cathartic - the kind of book that stays with you long after you put it down. I don't think I have ever seen a more accurate or convincing depiction of the vulnerability of childhood in comic-book form.
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  •  ~Geektastic~
    October 4, 2011
    If it were up to me, all biographies and memoirs would be written in graphic novel form. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, The Complete Maus, The Complete Persepolis, Blankets ; these are all near-perfect expressions of personal and familial experience. The power of imagery saves the subject matter from being bogged down by the excessively wordy, self-justifying tendencies of some, and the oblique, pseudo-poetic drivel of others. The best graphic novel memoirs and biographies seem to combat these t If it were up to me, all biographies and memoirs would be written in graphic novel form. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, The Complete Maus, The Complete Persepolis, Blankets ; these are all near-perfect expressions of personal and familial experience. The power of imagery saves the subject matter from being bogged down by the excessively wordy, self-justifying tendencies of some, and the oblique, pseudo-poetic drivel of others. The best graphic novel memoirs and biographies seem to combat these tendencies by utilizing a profound economy made possible by the the concentrated effect of the visual. Everyone knows the old truism, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but books like these show you what it really means to tell a story visually.Stitches is perhaps one of the best examples of this, even compared to the aforementioned masterpieces of the genre. Spare is the keyword here, as simple and often entirely silent series of panels tell a heartbreaking but ultimately redemptive coming of age story.Childhood is a bizarre and dangerous time; so much of who we are is the result of those formative years, and so much can go wrong. Some of us get lucky and we enter adulthood with nothing but a few minor scrapes and mental bruises, mitigated by affection and happy memories. But some of us are like David Small, and we are scarred.A bleak childhood and the questionable practices of 1950’s medicine (including the ministrations of Small’s radiologist father) leave Small scarred inside as well as out. The story is not a pleasant one, and there is no real humor to lighten the burden of disclosure, but it is told with such subtle beauty that it is worth the pain, like life itself often proves to be. (I apologize at this maudlin tendency, but there it is).Silence, both literal and metaphorical is the tool most often and effectively used by Small as he relates his traumatic and disturbing youth. Rendered voiceless for years by a mysterious medical procedure, he understands the power and difficulty of silence. His family doesn’t communicate— typical of their repressive time—and even with a voice, Small is rarely heard. Perhaps it is this lack of voice that gives him the ability to encapsulate a swathe of years in a few lines and the subtle shading of a face. He is definitely a master of facial expressions, if not of vocalization.There are moments of, if not joy, then understanding from time to time. And there are some truly disturbing events as well. (view spoiler)[ When your father gives you cancer, your mother is a secret lesbian and your grandmother is a homicidal lunatic, what hope do you have of normalcy? (hide spoiler)]. But life is full of both, it just seems that he got a bit more of the latter and at the end of his story I found myself surprised that he didn’t grow up to be a serial killer. David Small (and the rest of us) should be very thankful for the cathartic effect of storytelling. And good therapists.
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  • Raeleen Lemay
    January 8, 2015
    *4.5*WOW. This was a very quick read, but a very interesting one! The art was all in black and white, and looked like it was painted in watercolor paint, which was super cool! The transitions were incredible, and the ending of the book blew me away. Highly recommend.
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  • Lindsey Rey
    December 31, 2014
    This is officially my favorite graphic memoir! Loved it so much!
  • Oriana
    September 22, 2010
    book #6 for Jugs & Capes!! Holy motherfuck, this book is intense. It's a real fast read, despite its intimidating heft. And it's just terribly devastating—powerful and aching and sparse and horribly beautiful, and oh also did I mention that it's terribly devastating? I mean, not devastating in an irredeemable way, like those maudlin mass-market bestsellers where everyone dies slowly & tragically while staring meaningfully into their loved ones' eyes and gently speaking words of unbearabl book #6 for Jugs & Capes!! Holy motherfuck, this book is intense. It's a real fast read, despite its intimidating heft. And it's just terribly devastating—powerful and aching and sparse and horribly beautiful, and oh also did I mention that it's terribly devastating? I mean, not devastating in an irredeemable way, like those maudlin mass-market bestsellers where everyone dies slowly & tragically while staring meaningfully into their loved ones' eyes and gently speaking words of unbearably sad and corny wisdom (you can tell how many of those books I've actually read, right?). No, Stitches is devastating in a harrowing, can't-look-away-from-the-car-accident way. It's this insane extended snapshot of a SERIOUSLY fucked up family, done in an illuminating, fascinating, and ultimately kind of a little bit slightly maybe sort of hopeful way. What I'm saying, basically, is that it will leave you shaky and reeling and gasping for breath, and so so invigorated by the journey.
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  • Mariah
    November 19, 2016
    This book was an interesting graphic novel. There weren't many words, so I got through it very fast! I enjoyed his picture la and the fact that this was a memoir! He had a very hard life!!However, I struggled with the transitions between fantasy and his dreams and reality and the true story. This left me, at many times, confused and that is why I only gave the book 3 stars.
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  • Mariah
    March 8, 2017
    This book was an interesting graphic novel. There weren't many words, so I got through it very fast! I enjoyed his picture a lot and the fact that this was a memoir! He had a very hard life!!However, I struggled with the transitions between fantasy and his dreams and reality and the true story. This left me, at many times, confused and that is why I only gave the book 3 stars.
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  • Lyn
    August 28, 2013
    Wow. David Small’s graphic novel Stitches is unlike any graphic novel book I have ever read. There are no zombies, no superheroes and no arcane or occult subjects at all, and yet my jaw dropped more than once. It took me about an hour to get to the end and it was riveting. This reminds me of what a storyboard for an Augusten Burroughs film might look like. Very much worth the very minimal investment in time to experience.
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  • Jackie
    August 11, 2009
    Back in the 50's, people did NOT talk about issues. Everything was internalized - unhappiness, anger, resentment were all swallowed. When illustrator David Small was a boy, he felt all those repressed feelings, even though they weren't spoken. His mother's little cough, his father's absences, all spoke volumes.He internalized his own feelings, of not feeling loved or wanted, but they manifested physically as asthma and sinus troubles, exacerbated by the smoke from the nearby factories, and his o Back in the 50's, people did NOT talk about issues. Everything was internalized - unhappiness, anger, resentment were all swallowed. When illustrator David Small was a boy, he felt all those repressed feelings, even though they weren't spoken. His mother's little cough, his father's absences, all spoke volumes.He internalized his own feelings, of not feeling loved or wanted, but they manifested physically as asthma and sinus troubles, exacerbated by the smoke from the nearby factories, and his own father's smoking habit. The treatment at the time, especially given the fact that his father was a radiologist, was x-rays. Lots of x-rays. Not that going to the hospital was anything new for David. It was a place of both familiarity and comfort, and of the worst kind of nightmares. Later, in his early teens, David developed a growth on his neck, and eventually had surgery to remove it. The surgery did literally what life in his family had tried to do - it silenced his voice. His parents hid the truth from him, but that was nothing new. He discovered on his own that it was cancer, as he discovered the truth about other things happening in his family. And as he regained his ability to talk, therapy began to uncover the truth behind the tacit lies of his family life.This book broke my heart, for all the unhappy lives represented by this one family. The illustrations of David's dreams and nightmares may just give ME nightmares. The 50s were NOT a golden era for America. Underneath all that conformity was simmering resentment and lost happiness. Be glad you live now.
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  • MJ Nicholls
    June 19, 2013
    Understated and elegiac inkery. Strictly from the misery memoir staple, grainy and grotty, but not gratuitous. Cinematic panels opening up wistful wounds and profound childhood emptiness. The graphic novel is almost alone among contemporary art/fiction in capturing that peculiar form of youthful Weltschmerz.
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  • Maggie Stiefvater
    July 19, 2009
    I am not going to tell you anything about this book. I'm sure you're thinking that's an odd way to begin a review, but that's how I went into this book, and it worked for me. I was doing an interview with Booklist last weekend and I asked the interviewer what he thought was the graphic novel of the year so far. Without even having to consider, he said, "STITCHES." My publicist picked an advanced review copy up for me at ALA and I am thrilled that she did. I didn't know anything about it except t I am not going to tell you anything about this book. I'm sure you're thinking that's an odd way to begin a review, but that's how I went into this book, and it worked for me. I was doing an interview with Booklist last weekend and I asked the interviewer what he thought was the graphic novel of the year so far. Without even having to consider, he said, "STITCHES." My publicist picked an advanced review copy up for me at ALA and I am thrilled that she did. I didn't know anything about it except that it was a memoir written as a graphic novel, and that it was supposed to be fabulous (which makes me naturally mistrustful, of course). I didn't even read the back -- just opened it up in the airport and fell in. So I won't tell you what this book is about. I will tell you this: David Small shines in illustrating the small details that make people real. This is a fairly dark book, but there were parts were I laughed out loud at Small's cunning characterizations. If you read other reviews, you'll see they call the style "cinematic" and "stunning" and it's both of those things. It's also whimsical, sad, and ultimately uplifting. It has possibly the best final line of any book I've read. Definitely one I'll be buying in hardcover and my favorite graphic novel for the past several years. Stunningly done and a good pick for adults who haven't stuck their toe in the graphic novel pool. The water's fine. ***wondering why all my reviews are five stars? Because I'm only reviewing my favorite books -- not every book I read. Consider a novel's presence on my Goodreads bookshelf as a hearty endorsement. I can't believe I just said "hearty." It sounds like a stew.***
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  • Melki
    February 12, 2012
    Wow! What a heartrending look at children's book writer/illustrator David Small's sad and miserable childhood!We see him first as a small boy, lying on the floor, happily drawing pictures.His dad is mostly absent, and his mother, well, let's face it...she's HORRIBLE! Verbally and physically abusive, she's a monster. But as this graphic novel, done in muted shades of gray suggests, not everything is black and white. After spending some time with David's grandmother, his mother's mother, we get so Wow! What a heartrending look at children's book writer/illustrator David Small's sad and miserable childhood!We see him first as a small boy, lying on the floor, happily drawing pictures.His dad is mostly absent, and his mother, well, let's face it...she's HORRIBLE! Verbally and physically abusive, she's a monster. But as this graphic novel, done in muted shades of gray suggests, not everything is black and white. After spending some time with David's grandmother, his mother's mother, we get some inkling of how the monster got to be that way. David has a rough time of it, yet his delightful imagination manages to pull him through. From drawings that come alive on his pages to pretending to be Alice in Wonderland, the life within his head is SO much better than reality.Things truly go from bad to worse, and like his hero Alice, David will tumble down a dark hole. There he meets a white rabbit savior who helps him find his voice, and a measure of forgiveness.
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  • Sam Quixote
    July 31, 2011
    David Small's childhood wasn't a happy one. His mother was cold, emotionless, and brutal toward him. His father was distant and barely spoke to him. His brother was around but just barely. Nobody spoke to one another. Then we find out about their tormented inner lives. His mother was a closet homosexual while his father was numbed by the knowledge that he had given David cancer through x-rays. His grandmother was an insane person who tried to murder her husband by burning the house down and his David Small's childhood wasn't a happy one. His mother was cold, emotionless, and brutal toward him. His father was distant and barely spoke to him. His brother was around but just barely. Nobody spoke to one another. Then we find out about their tormented inner lives. His mother was a closet homosexual while his father was numbed by the knowledge that he had given David cancer through x-rays. His grandmother was an insane person who tried to murder her husband by burning the house down and his great grandfather tried to kill himself by drinking Drano. Due to the x-rays his father shot at him when he was born, David developed a tumour on his throat which led to cancer and after two operations left him with one vocal chord making speaking an enormous task. Similar to Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home" a few years ago, David Small's "Stitches" tells the story of a family and their secrets, of pain, of triumph and human relationships, and of hope. The drawing style reminded me of Will Eisner's - Small draws without panels and the drawings and words swirl together and spill over onto other pages. However Small has enough of a style to call his own. The drawings in this book are incredible. Flicking back through the book there's something on every page that's extraordinary. The ones that stand out are the expressions of emotion - David finding a kind fatherly figure in a psychiatrist (depicted as the White Rabbit from Lewis Carroll's Alice books) and crying. The sequence of tears covers several pages and is beautiful. Similarly the one page depiction of a now voiceless David expressing his inner frustration toward his parents, a screaming mouth within a mouth within a mouth ad infinitum, is very powerful. There's so much to recommend this book, the amazing art, the storytelling ability and the power of the story - if you're a fan of comics you will love this. Even if you're not a big reader of comics there's a lot here to appreciate and like. It's a tremendous achievement.
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  • Lee
    June 7, 2010
    Such strange compressions of time: 24 years of the most significant moments in the author's life laid out in comparatively spare, sane, elegant, mature, b&w drawings (compared to the work of many other leading graphic artists) over 329 pages that surely took years to complete, read in an "enjoyable" hour, immersed in that sort of cinematic bookishness that comes from turning pages so much more quickly than those covered in text. A great passage of pages where the kid-aged author dives throug Such strange compressions of time: 24 years of the most significant moments in the author's life laid out in comparatively spare, sane, elegant, mature, b&w drawings (compared to the work of many other leading graphic artists) over 329 pages that surely took years to complete, read in an "enjoyable" hour, immersed in that sort of cinematic bookishness that comes from turning pages so much more quickly than those covered in text. A great passage of pages where the kid-aged author dives through a drawing and down a tunnel through the floor that leads to a secret hideout of cartoon mice and heroes and such. The b&w drawings work well to depict thriving old Detroit and domestic tension expressed as clenched silence. As fiction, the story's a bit much in terms of '60s-era Midwestern repression but thankfully this is memoir, another coming-of-age portrait of the artist in several hundred frames. It's affecting but sometimes it may have poured too much poignancy (pages of rain) on me. It's novel length but there's nothing particularly novelistic about it. It feels more like a story, in terms of length and depth. But still I'd recommend it for brief immersion in the sort of characteristically sucky childhood that -- without fail, apparently -- turns a child into the sort of artist who eventually publishes an excellent (if in this case at times a somewhat hasty/thin-seeming) pictional memoir.
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  • Suad Shamma
    May 8, 2015
    I was highly impressed with this book, way more than I thought I would be. When I bought it, it was on a whim. I had never heard of David Small, I don't know who he is or what he does. I was taken in by the cover, the fact that it was a memoir written in graphic novel style, and with a quick skim through it I knew I liked the artist's style and would enjoy the story. This isn't a happy story, it's quite dark, and you can't help but think it must be fiction. This can't actually be true. This can' I was highly impressed with this book, way more than I thought I would be. When I bought it, it was on a whim. I had never heard of David Small, I don't know who he is or what he does. I was taken in by the cover, the fact that it was a memoir written in graphic novel style, and with a quick skim through it I knew I liked the artist's style and would enjoy the story. This isn't a happy story, it's quite dark, and you can't help but think it must be fiction. This can't actually be true. This can't actually be what happened to David. But it was and it is, and this thought keeps resonating in your head as you read through his childhood and adolescence. The way he describes his family as silent, each expressing themselves silently in different ways was brilliant. When he gets to the point where his silence is not a matter of choice anymore, I thought wow. This book is a lot more than I bargained for. This is profound, and quite painful to tell you the truth. You're sad and in pain and you want to protect this boy from his family who are hurting him, albeit unintentionally. His mom, who plays an integral part in his pain fascinated me. Her anger and her silent suffering, the big revelation at the end was shocking that I couldn't begin to imagine the impact it had on him at the time. I loved the little snippets at the end about his family and what happened to them after the story had ended, it made it all the more real to me. Great memoir.
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  • Tatiana
    January 3, 2010
    This is a very strong graphic novel. No superheroes here, just a very emotional memoir about a child growing up in a deeply dysfunctional family but who manages to overcome the damages that had been inflicted upon him by his relatives. A very, very unhappy family depicted here. And David is not very forgiving either.I do not recommend reading the plot summary printed on the dust jacket. It gives the entire story away.If you like Stitches, you will probably like Blankets too.
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  • Kelly
    October 31, 2009
    Woo wee, this memoir had some bite to it, to be sure. Picking this one up, I was not sure if it would consitute as 'creepy' as everyone has said it is. It's worse. Stitches is creepy and affecting. The story of David Small's childhood kept me up at night, with me pondering over him being mentally scarred or not. The pictures are 'simplistic' yet arresting. Check this one out.
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  • Stacy268
    November 7, 2009
    Heart breaking.I read this last night and was left very pensive. Once wakened by my daughter around 1am, Small's story would not leave my brain. Upon reflection I think I will be haunted by this one for a long time.
  • Agne
    August 22, 2014
    WHAT IS IT ABOUT?David Small's "Stitches" is a gloomy and harrowing memoir written as a graphic novel. The story brings us back to the author’s childhood and lets us “in a house where silence reigned and free speech was forbidden.” Although David wasn’t beaten or starved (not too often, anyways), the extreme lack of love and communication from his parents left deep scars, even deeper than a stitched up gash across his throat. And how did he get that gash? Oh, at the age of fourteen he had a surg WHAT IS IT ABOUT?David Small's "Stitches" is a gloomy and harrowing memoir written as a graphic novel. The story brings us back to the author’s childhood and lets us “in a house where silence reigned and free speech was forbidden.” Although David wasn’t beaten or starved (not too often, anyways), the extreme lack of love and communication from his parents left deep scars, even deeper than a stitched up gash across his throat. And how did he get that gash? Oh, at the age of fourteen he had a surgery after which he woke up without his thyroid gland and one of the vocal cords. Apparently, he had cancer and was expected to die, but nobody told him any of that until he found out about it himself, accidentally.MY THOUGHTS:“Stitches” was the first graphic novel I’ve ever read. Maybe because of my limited proficiency in “reading” the pictures, at first I wasn’t too impressed. But after a great book club discussion and some background information, I was inspired to read it again more thoroughly… and I absolutely loved it!Here are some things I loved the most:a) The artwork in Small’s memoir is a masterpiece, well beyond the level of any comic book illustrations I ever seen. Every emotion is captured, every detail adds something to the story. A single image often tells more than can be summed up in a paragraph.b) The whole book is very well thought-out. The images and text work in a perfect harmony, supplementing each other.c) Transitions in “Stitches” are simply genius. The book flows like a movie.d) Small tells us a horrifying and heartbreaking story but does so in a simple, honest and relatable way without being too sentimental or judgmental.VERDICT: 4 out of 5Even if you don’t read comics on a regular basis or steer clear of the genre altogether, give this one a try. It’s really worth a couple of hours of your life.
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  • Vanessa
    December 8, 2014
    I picked this graphic novel up on a whim when I saw it in my local library. I like checking out relatively unheard of and independent graphic novels, and the concept of this illustrated memoir appealed to me.David Small depicts his childhood and adolescence living in a family where emotions are not shown, anger rules, and he is subjected to various x-rays and doses of radiation by his physician father in an attempt to cure is respiratory problems. Unfortunately this led to his developing cancer, I picked this graphic novel up on a whim when I saw it in my local library. I like checking out relatively unheard of and independent graphic novels, and the concept of this illustrated memoir appealed to me.David Small depicts his childhood and adolescence living in a family where emotions are not shown, anger rules, and he is subjected to various x-rays and doses of radiation by his physician father in an attempt to cure is respiratory problems. Unfortunately this led to his developing cancer, which was cured in his teens but left him with a lot of resentment and anger - and understandably so.Although I found Small's life to be very interesting and saddening (his family were truly dysfunctional), I didn't overly love the art style. There was no colour in this graphic novel, and while a lack of colour doesn't really bother me, I didn't love the art style enough for it to make me warm to the book overall.Saying that, this was a very quick read, and you could easily read this in one sitting. If you're looking for something quick, enjoy the art style, or think the premise sounds interesting, I'd suggest picking it up. Personally, I wouldn't buy it though.
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  • Bob Redmond
    July 12, 2009
    The story: a boy suffers from the worst kind of neglect, in a truly screwed up family situation. It probably won't spoil the story to say that he loses his voice through an operation (hence the title). It's a memoir.The background: the author would eventually become a renowned illustrator of children's books.My notes: the book is goregously illustrated in black inks and watercolors. The prose is spare, and the story minimal. Amist the flood of memoirs published in recent years, this one has to s The story: a boy suffers from the worst kind of neglect, in a truly screwed up family situation. It probably won't spoil the story to say that he loses his voice through an operation (hence the title). It's a memoir.The background: the author would eventually become a renowned illustrator of children's books.My notes: the book is goregously illustrated in black inks and watercolors. The prose is spare, and the story minimal. Amist the flood of memoirs published in recent years, this one has to stand out for its jaw-dropping tale of misfortune and for the author's ability to overcome. It is reminiscent of Alison Bechdel's memoir Fun Home, also a graphic novel and family drama.Unlike Bechdel's book, however, the narrative canvas is small. The author's story, however horrific, personally redeeming, and potentially inspiring, remains a _tale_ and not something bigger. In the age of Memoir (another mostly toxic byproduct of the writing factories), and the me-generation Y, this probably isn't a terrible fault. Small speaks the vernacular.On the other hand, that order is, um, "rapidly fadin'". Culture is moving beyond Gen Y and their often-selfishness, and Web 2.0 and its hub/spoke relational aesthetics. Sure, David Small is a full-fledged boomer, but the impact of his book has to be measured in current terms. Or more radically, his book--especially since it's a graphic novel--should be assessed in forward-looking terms.What is coming both culturally and literarily—no accident those two are bound together—is a necessary concern with others, audiences, and contexts... a whole new kind of relation in which the "I" can't exist as a one-dimensional point, no matter how deep the cuts, or how gorgeous the drawings.WHY I READ THIS BOOK: Small's book, to be published this September, was the talk of the otherwise-moribund Book Expo last month.
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  • Ken
    October 31, 2009
    I bought with the intent of putting it in my classroom library, but I don't think I'm brave enough -- at least not for 8th graders. Mon Dieu, David Small's graphic memoir ("graphic" as in cartoon) includes titties and men's "things" and a Jesus talking from his crucifix (as one might expect, he was cross). The coup de grâce, though, comes in the form of a panel showing a neighbor lady getting out of bed with his mother (he stumbled into the bedroom at an inopportune moment -- that is, when he st I bought with the intent of putting it in my classroom library, but I don't think I'm brave enough -- at least not for 8th graders. Mon Dieu, David Small's graphic memoir ("graphic" as in cartoon) includes titties and men's "things" and a Jesus talking from his crucifix (as one might expect, he was cross). The coup de grâce, though, comes in the form of a panel showing a neighbor lady getting out of bed with his mother (he stumbled into the bedroom at an inopportune moment -- that is, when he still should've been at school).Of course 8th graders can handle all of this, and I don't worry about them in the least. It's the parents one worries about. Still, this memoir is a rather riveting display of one boy's unloved upbringing under a doctor father and a sickly mother. If you're a boomer, it sends you back -- all those panels of smoking and drinking parents in 60's mod households. Such, such were the days for some of us, but Small only wished it would end. And as if loveless parents weren't enough, the book includes a visit to Indiana, where he meets his (certifiably crazy) grandmother.The moral of the story? If you're a writer and your parents were cruel, selfish, abusive, drunk, drugged, or wildly eccentric, there's money to be had -- yes, even in the cartoon business. Maybe it was the unique genre, but I was transfixed and read it in one sitting. Too bad it wasn't more funny -- I was prepared to roll out my "I was in stitches" line -- but no. It was all rather bleak. Bleak and well done.
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  • Jennifer
    July 18, 2009
    This evocative graphic novel, replete with themes of loss, anger, pain and hope, is bound to resonate with readers in much the same way thatCraig Thompson’s Blankets does. Small’s memoir mirrors the helplessness children and adolescents often feel as pawns in world ruled by adults with their own dysfunctional baggage, and beautifully illustrates the truism that everyone eventually grows up and is rewarded with the chance to develop their own identity separate from the people who raised them. Als This evocative graphic novel, replete with themes of loss, anger, pain and hope, is bound to resonate with readers in much the same way thatCraig Thompson’s Blankets does. Small’s memoir mirrors the helplessness children and adolescents often feel as pawns in world ruled by adults with their own dysfunctional baggage, and beautifully illustrates the truism that everyone eventually grows up and is rewarded with the chance to develop their own identity separate from the people who raised them. Also brilliant is how Small subtly weaves in symbols of Alice in Wonderland throughout the book, including mazes, labyrinths and deep holes that turn into screaming mouths. Powerful stuff. I won't soon forget it.Also at Reading Rants:http://www.readingrants.org/2009/08/1...
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  • UConnCo-op
    June 2, 2009
    Imogene's Antlers by David Small has always been one of my favorite childrens books so I was eager to read his graphic memoir Stitches, but not prepared for the intensity of it. With drawings and spare words, he relives his troubled childhood with his frighteningly unhappy mother and physician father. After X-Ray treatments from his father, he develops cancer at the age of 14 but no one tells him. He awakes from surgery scarred, mute, and confused about what happened and why. At 16 he leaves hom Imogene's Antlers by David Small has always been one of my favorite childrens books so I was eager to read his graphic memoir Stitches, but not prepared for the intensity of it. With drawings and spare words, he relives his troubled childhood with his frighteningly unhappy mother and physician father. After X-Ray treatments from his father, he develops cancer at the age of 14 but no one tells him. He awakes from surgery scarred, mute, and confused about what happened and why. At 16 he leaves home and lives on his own. As we know, he eventually overcomes his past and becomes a leading author and illustrator but none of us could have guessed the trauma he endured and the path he took to become an artist. This is an amazing book. Suzy
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  • Skip
    August 22, 2016
    David Small tells the story of his childhood and adolescence in a repressive home. Sickly, he is subjected by his physician father to many x-rays, which causes further problems, from which he is shielded. As an only child, David is isolated, without friends, and naturally becomes embittered. I found the book and the monochromatic graphic style kind of depressing.
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  • Mandy
    September 25, 2009
    Dear Mom and Dad, Our family's never seemed as normal and happy as after I read this book. Love, Mandy
  • edh
    September 14, 2009
    Like his favorite character, Alice, David Small leads the reader through a kaleidoscopic wonderland in his memoir Stitches. But this is no technicolor animation - young David's journey is a painful hell punctuated by emotional and physical estrangement that has obviously had a formative effect on his art. The adults in his life loom over him like leering eyeless zombies as he discovers that nobody's supposed to call his grandmother "crazy," and that the supposedly harmless surgery he needs has t Like his favorite character, Alice, David Small leads the reader through a kaleidoscopic wonderland in his memoir Stitches. But this is no technicolor animation - young David's journey is a painful hell punctuated by emotional and physical estrangement that has obviously had a formative effect on his art. The adults in his life loom over him like leering eyeless zombies as he discovers that nobody's supposed to call his grandmother "crazy," and that the supposedly harmless surgery he needs has turned into a nightmarish tumor removal that leaves him nearly mute. Finally, David is rescued from the brink of insanity (and expulsions from boarding schools) by his own White Rabbit, a psychiatrist who helps him come to terms with his family's dysfunction and his own confusions. Expressively told in wavering lines washed with gray pools of shadow, David Small morphs his memories from reality to fantasy and back. Theatre seats become teeth in a mouth; a cavernous void which he cannot use to express himself (literally or figuratively). A recurring dream in which, Alice-like, he is forced through smaller and smaller doors only to emerge in a scene of chaos and destruction gives his narrative more figurative depth. Ultimately, this is a story of hope - his epilogue goes on to give a bit more backstory to his parents' lives and his determination to escape the cycle of denial that had been percolating for several generations. Give this one to anyone who needs proof that art (however you define it) has the ability to set you free.
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  • Bry
    December 21, 2009
    Wow. Just wow. I expected this to be good, but good and completely depressing too. Yet, somehow, by the time I finished this book I wasn't depressed in the least. Some parts were sad, don't get me wrong, but overall it was heartbreaking yet completely uplifting. David Small is a man who survived sickness, abuse, social exile, a loveless mother, a guilt ridden father, and the thought that he was going insane. Also, I don't think I could have enjoyed this book if it were a novel and not a graphic Wow. Just wow. I expected this to be good, but good and completely depressing too. Yet, somehow, by the time I finished this book I wasn't depressed in the least. Some parts were sad, don't get me wrong, but overall it was heartbreaking yet completely uplifting. David Small is a man who survived sickness, abuse, social exile, a loveless mother, a guilt ridden father, and the thought that he was going insane. Also, I don't think I could have enjoyed this book if it were a novel and not a graphic novel. The art added more the story than any amount of extraordinary prose ever could have. I am so glad I found this story and was able to read about the author's history. It is a genuine look into family dynamic in the time period, health care back then, and the mind of a person made to suffer more than they could have ever deserved. I highly recommend this book, and could continue to praise for some length. Just take my word for it though - it's wonderful and a must read.
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  • emily
    December 29, 2016
    again, it feels wrong to put a star rating on this!! i don't like them anymore!!! the art in this was really nice--the panels moved you through the narrative as a camera in a film would. everything was very quiet and soft, which makes sense with a narrator who was without speech for a portion of his life. i felt that it lacked a certain amount of depth and emotional connection. it was very surface level--i suppose some of the art stood as metaphors that could definitely be read as the more intr again, it feels wrong to put a star rating on this!! i don't like them anymore!!! the art in this was really nice--the panels moved you through the narrative as a camera in a film would. everything was very quiet and soft, which makes sense with a narrator who was without speech for a portion of his life. i felt that it lacked a certain amount of depth and emotional connection. it was very surface level--i suppose some of the art stood as metaphors that could definitely be read as the more introspective parts of the narrative, but it just didn't resonate with me that much. he has quite the story about his childhood, and the art depicting it was beautiful and utilized very nicely, but i just wish i had been more connected to it.
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  • Ashley
    October 26, 2009
    Well, that was emotionally exhausting.Small tells the story of his childhood in sparse black and white illustrations that make horrifying events seem even more so, which is the point. The drawings of the adults in his life make them seem like monsters, physically and emotionally. Trauma drips off these pages, but it's a fast read, maybe only because the need for there to be some sort of happy ending is so obvious. The whole thing is so well put together, crafted not with love (because that impli Well, that was emotionally exhausting.Small tells the story of his childhood in sparse black and white illustrations that make horrifying events seem even more so, which is the point. The drawings of the adults in his life make them seem like monsters, physically and emotionally. Trauma drips off these pages, but it's a fast read, maybe only because the need for there to be some sort of happy ending is so obvious. The whole thing is so well put together, crafted not with love (because that implies some sort of positivity), but with an extreme care that portrays the terrible emotional scenery more effectively than if he'd drawn everything straight. I guess you could call this a humdinger.
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