Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Stitches - David Small
In general I am not a fan of graphic novels. Like comic books, I think they are in a genre all their own, separate and apart from novels and literature. This is not to say that they are better or worse, just that I don't understand them enough to enjoy them. I first heard of a graphic novel my first year in college when half my dorm was assigned Maus. I, however, was not. Years later, I read Persepolis and its sequel. While I enjoyed them, I couldn't help thinking they would have been even better as memoirs written in prose rather than in pictures. But, when I received this book as part of my Powell's book club, I thought I'd give this graphic novel thing another try. Stitches is the memoir of David Small, a sickly little boy growing up in a household of turmoil. Following a particularly traumatic surgery, David is left without his voice. And so he tells his story through pictures. While the drawings in this book are haunting, and tell a compelling story of a frightened child in a world with no explanations, I still wished I could have read a fuller more complete book about his life. There were little things here and there that Small touched upon - like the possibility that his father, a radiologist, may have caused David's illness, and the fact that his mother was a lesbian - but which he does not explore in any depth. There are themes galore, but they don't get much attention which left me with a million unanswered questions about Small's life (which is maybe how he himself felt going through it all). I suppose a picture is woth a thousand words, but I needed a different presentation. I've read many reviews of Stitches in which people laud Small for raising the bar and expanding the depths of the graphic novel. All I can safely say is that I just don't get it. This was a great story - and I liked the pictures - but ultimately, I wanted to read a book with more words.