"We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read." - Jules Verne
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Stitches: A Memoir by David Small

A sad, engrossing read

I hated the first 20 pages of Stitches: A Memoir. It seemed like another self-pitying artistic look at a pseudo-dysfunctional family and I'm just a little tired of that right now.

But...

the story develops a bit more and pretty soon I was totally absorbed. I read it in two sittings for a total time of less than an hour, despite its 300+ page length. The story pulls you in. I was amazed at the literal insanity of Small's maternal family. It is also the autobiographical struggle of David Small dealing with his own struggles with mental instability.

The stitches referred to in the title are stitches that David Small has to have after a radical surgery on his neck. He had suffered from a growth in his neck for years before his parents decided to have it investigated, an inexcusable act considering that his father worked at a hospital as a radiologist.

Small's artwork catches and defines the mood so well. There are many pages with no text at all but nothing but artwork that conveys the story with body language, a raised eyebrow, raindrops or an odd angle.

Not only that but Small catches the accent of his family from southern Indiana dead on accurate in his writing. I'm a native of southern Indiana and I appreciated his effort to catch the distinctive twang and drawl.

From comments I've read, some sources are promoting this book as a children's book. It is not. Sure, it's written by a children's author and it has pictures but I wouldn't go younger than high school with this one.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

Reviewed on September 21, 2009.

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