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Stitches: A Memoir [Hardcover]

David Small
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
Price: 14.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

3 Nov 2009
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 statement. A silent movie masquerading as a book, Stitches renders a broken world suddenly seamless and beautiful again. Finalist for the 2009 National Book Award (Young Adult); finalist for two 2010 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards (Best Writer/Artist: Nonfiction; Best Reality-Based Work)."

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Stitches: A Memoir + Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (3 Nov 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393068579
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393068573
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 18.6 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 384,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A beautifully drawn, tragicomic graphic memoir about a childhood from hell. "

About the Author

National Book Award winner for Octavian Nothing, David Small is the recipient of the Caldecott Medal, a Christopher Medal and the E.B. White Award for his picture books, which include Imogene's Antlers, The Gardener and So, You Want to Be President? --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "When you have no voice, you don't exist." 31 Aug 2009
David Small's autobiographical novel, told through drawings, is a powerful tribute to the resilience of one boy's spirit despite every possible attempt by his family to destroy it--and him. I had never read a "graphic novel" before and had no particular expectations when I began it, so I was unprepared for the directness with which this novel engages on an emotional level while still exhibiting many of the qualities one expects in the best written fiction. David Small illustrates his dysfunctional childhood--literally showing, rather than telling about, the harsh life to which he was exposed by his rigid and withdrawn mother and his cold, mostly-absent physician father.

Throughout childhood, David sees himself as the star of an Alice-in-Wonderland existence, wrapping a yellow towel around his head, at age six, to resemble Alice as he plays, and, like Alice, accepting even the weirdest experiences--and the most bizarre family members--as part of his everyday existence. As the reader sees his disturbed mother and grandmother develop, and reads about his even more obviously disturbed great-grandparents, the visual unwinding of David's life evokes strong, emotional responses, tantamount to that of a black-and-white film. At age fourteen, he has surgery that leaves him literally speechless for months, one vocal cord excised. But he is also emotionally "speechless," unable to express his anger at his family's long-time treatment of him. His nightmares, straight out of Wonderland, are terrifying. It is not until he meets the "White Rabbit," that he begins to understand his anger and accept it as justified.

Throughout the book, Small shows a sensitivity to the needs of the story while resisting the temptation to be melodramatic--the events of his life need no such embellishment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It'll have you in... no it won't 26 Jan 2010
By Sam Quixote TOP 50 REVIEWER
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! 3 April 2012
There simply is no other way to say it. This book is fantastic. The drama and the way it's depicted are so subtle and yet you can almost hear the main character's words in your head.

The story is sad, it is about a troubled childhood. Yet you find the little guy fighting to get over some complicated moments in his life. And the way it's drawn is wonderful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I must admit right from the start that It's been taking me some time to find the right words to express what I feel about this book - but to no avail. That book had left me speechless and I still can't put into words how strong and tremendously emotional this book is.

The book is written from a child's point of view and focuses on the autor's dealing with cancer when he was a kid, But alongside with that - he describes his childhood in general. Right from the first page he depicts the atmosphere of his home, family and beyond. Through the drawings and the text we see little David, subjected to a rough life with bitter cold-hearted parents in a house in the middle of nowhere. Without anyone who ever listens to him, hugs him or even gives him a slightest sense of compassion, David is descending to being a victim of cancer - and with every page you turn you only discover it's just the tip of the iceberg. I won't reveal any of that here - but I just hope you will read that book to discover the rest yourselves.

It has never occured to me that a book can have such an impact. I've read lots of strong books that thrilled me to the bone and even got me to cry - but this one tops them all. When you look at those drawings and read about David's childhood - you just can't help wishing you could dive into the book, give David the warmest hug you can give and save him from the bleak world he lives in. It is THAT emotional - and I promise you that I'm not exaggerating.

Do yourselves a favor and add this book to your collection. One can finish reading it in less than an hour - but I assure you that this book will remain inside you for much longer!
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