13 of 15: “Stitches” by David Small

As I barrel on in my 15/15/15 project, I finally picked up Stitches, a comic-book memoir by David Small, reviewed as one of the best graphic novels of last year. David is six when the story begins. There’s a lovely, long series of tracking illustrations through Detroit into David’s living room where he’s drawing, then we meet his family. Each expresses emotion without words. Mother bangs pots. Father hits a punching bag. Brother bangs a drum set. And David? He gets sick.

At six, David has sinus problems. His radiologist father treats him with X-rays, not uncommon at the time. At eleven, David has a lump on his neck. Surgery is recommended, but somehow the family puts it off for three and a half years. The aftermath of the surgery, and the series of revelations that follow are terribly sad and often horrifying.

Small’s minimalist art and black and white watercolor palette help make this tale not only readable, but engaging. There are many powerful wordless sequences from a child’s perspective, some true, others imaginary. Like Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, with which this book shares more than a few similarities, the existence of the book and the ability of the artist to write it point to hope and redemption in the face of a harrowing family life.

6 Responses to “13 of 15: “Stitches” by David Small”

  1. SFP Says:

    I’m planning to read a graphic novel this evening–probably the shorter of the two that I have on hand.

    Yesterday I read E.M. Forster’s Arctic Summer–just 84 pages, but I enjoyed them thoroughly.


  2. Amy Says:

    Oh good. You read that one, so you can add it to our “book swap pile”, and I’ll hand over Howards End is on the Landing next time we meet. :-)

    I went to an older Ian McEwan for book 13: http://www.newcenturyreading.com/2010/04/the-151515-projectday-11.html

  3. Inquirer Says:

    13 of 15 … The Mother Tongue. We are almost there. 10 and 11 had me want to quit, but yesterday’s book was a winner. I could read Bill Bryson everyday.


  4. Farheen Says:

    I loved my yesterday’s read - Gabriel’s Gift. I am a little confused over whether my last read should be Balzac or Dostovesky. I think both I’m crazy to even consider both of them for this project!


  5. girldetective Says:

    Farheen, I think we can all be considered crazy for trying it at all, no? But yes, Balzac or Dostoevsky does seem a bit of a stretch.

  6. Jessica Snell Says:

    I can’t believe this is almost done. Did I mention my major motivation behind this was to force myself to do less of my reading online? It’s working, but man! I am tired.

    Here’s my #13: