HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Arrr! (Celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day) Thar be a hunt for treasure, Mateys!
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Stitches: A Memoir by David Small
Loading...

Stitches: A Memoir (2009)

by David Small

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,5991586,609 (4.16)177
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 177 mentions

English (154)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (158)
Showing 1-5 of 154 (next | show all)
Autobiography. Graphic novel. little boy grows up with cruel parents. Father experimented with radiation on son which left him with bone cancer. Mother very distant. ( )
  margaretfield | Jun 6, 2018 |
I wish there weren't any words in this. ( )
  grebmops | Apr 9, 2018 |
An entirely sad story about deserving to be loved, but not getting it. David Small's memoir is a very effective and worthwhile read, where I constantly found myself wanting to jump into the book in order to hush and comfort him throughout the pages.

Even though I wanted to, I found it very hard to vilify anyone throughout the story, especially upon reaching the end.
  christina.h | Jan 31, 2018 |
So I've been spending a lot of time at my local library lately, taking advantage of the free wifi while Jefferson is in preschool. In the process, I've done more than a few laps around the new acquisitions shelves. Few of the books on those shelves tempted me (probably a good thing, considering my history of library fines), but this one did. So when one day I found myself in Mecosta for the afternoon without my laptop, I went straight to this book.

Despite the immense size of Stitches, it's a blazingly quick read, even for a graphic novel. Partially this is due to Small's style -- heavy on scenery and light on text. Partially it's because Small's family life is just that kind of train wreck that you can't take your eyes away from. I turned each page wondering how people could treat each other this way.

The true miracle of Stitches is, that despite a childhood that would give Small every right to bitterness, every excuse and reason to be a miserable human being and terror of a parent himself, ultimately Small shows insight and compassion for all the characters portrayed, himself included. And while he documents a pattern of abuse and neglect, there is also evidence that each generation did what they could, with what resources and grace they had at hand, to not perpetuate that violence. Even those still miserable and doling out misery were doing what they could to hold back what they could. At least in Small's generous reckoning.

Not that this is what I saw when I first put the book down. In that first moment, collaborating with a recent discussion I'd had about people perpetuating cycles of abuse and continuing it with their own children -- I was overcome by the darkness of it all. But distance gave perspective, and I think thanks to this book, I can now appreciate that even the man who was the subject of our discussion -- surely in his own mind is not abusing his daughter. In his own mind, he must be holding so much back from the abuse inflicted on him. And with grace, and with the resources given by her mother and stepfather, perhaps his daughter will finally be able to step free, and raise her children in a home without abuse.

Maybe there is more hope for this poor, broken human race than just these acts of abuse themselves would suggest. ( )
  greeniezona | Dec 6, 2017 |
I'm making my way through our library's non-fiction graphic novels (which is a sum total of about 5). Honestly, this story was kind of interesting and I wanted to like it a lot. I just....didn't get it. I realize it's a memoir/coming of age story. I get the story. It was interesting, but there was nothing about it that made me want to shout from the rooftops "I am so glad this book exists!" So- yeah. Interesting (and sad), great art, but I got through it and said "oh. Ok. What should I read next?" ( )
  mollypitchermary | Oct 11, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 154 (next | show all)
Too much setup, not enough payoff.
 
It is one thing for an artist to credit his career choice to an unhappy youth in which opportunities for self-expression were perpetually stifled, and quite another for an artist to say that his parents literally took his voice from him. That, however, is the story of David Small’s life as he tells it in “Stitches,” a graphic memoir, which comes out this week.
 
Graphic in every sense of the word, Small's masterfully drawn memoir will arrest readers from the very first cell.
added by Shortride | editKirkus (Jun 15, 2009)
 
The shaded artwork, composed mostly of ink washes, is both evocative and beautifully detailed.
added by Katya0133 | editSchool Library Journal, Francisca Goldsmith
 
Like other “important” graphic works it seems destined to sit beside—think no less than Maus—this is a frequently disturbing, pitch-black funny, ultimately cathartic story whose full impact can only be delivered in the comics medium, which keeps it palatable as it reinforces its appalling aspects.
added by Katya0133 | editBooklist, Ian Chipman
 

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393068579, Hardcover)

Amazon Best of the Month, September 2009: Reading Stitches may feel unexpectedly familiar. Not in the details of its story--which is David Small's harrowing account of growing up under the watchless eyes of parents who gave him cancer (his radiologist father subjected him to unscrupulous x-rays for minor ailments) and let it develop untreated for years--but in delicate glimpses of the author's child's-eye view, sketched most often with no words at all. Early memories (and difficult ones, too) often seem less like words than pictures we play back to ourselves. That is what's recognizable and, somehow, ultimately delightful in the midst of this deeply sad story: it reminds us of our memories, not just what they are, but what they look like. In every drawing, David Small shows us moments both real and imagined—some that are guileless and funny and wonderfully sweet, many others that are dark and fearful—that unveil a very talented artist, stitches and all. --Anne Bartholomew

Amazon Exclusive: David Small on Stitches

David Small

Amazon.com: Stitches is a hard story to tell. What inspired you ultimately to write it?

David Small: I needed a direct confrontation with my past. It wasn't easy, but I was ready to do it, so the work--though it was very difficult--felt rewarding, even exhilarating at times.

Now that it's become a book it seems so complete, so seamless, and--looking at it now--it seems as if it simply fell out onto the page. In reality it was like herding cats for three solid years, especially after the book was under contract and I was really committed to doing it. But deadlines are great energizers. (So, I should add, are the faith of a great editor, a great agent, and a great wife. I am lucky. I have all three.)

Amazon.com: "Graphic novel" is a form that now encompasses all kinds of storytelling, fictional and factual. As an artist, how would you compare reading pictures vs. words? What might your story lose (or gain) if you told it without pictures?

David Small: I like to say that images get straight inside us, bypassing all the guard towers. You often go to the movies and see people with tears streaming down their cheeks, but you don't see this in libraries, not in my experience at least.

I know now that the graphic form was the only way my memoir could have been told. First of all, drawing is my most fluent means of expression. Secondly, it's a story about being voiceless. It demanded a visual treatment because it involved so much of that guessing game we played in our family, of trying to figure out why someone was mad at us--someone who refused to communicate by any other means than slamming things around. If told in words--even if I could have--the story would have lost that visceral impact.

Amazon.com: Do you read a lot of graphic novels? Are there artists you'd recommend for fans of this genre?

David Small: I've read enough to know that the percentage of really good works in that medium is as small as in any other. For decades I've known and admired the work of Lynd Ward (God's Man, The Silver Pony), a pioneer of the form. Art Spiegelman's Maus and Craig Thompson's Blankets were moving and very pure. Recently I was impressed by Josh Neufeld's A.D.: New Orleans after the Deluge.

A lot of the living artists I admire are European: Blutch, Sylvain Chomet, Winchluss, Frederik Peeters, Nicholas de Crécy, and Gipi are my favorites.

Amazon.com: We're always curious to know more about what authors like to read. Are there any you'd say who have influenced your own approach to writing?

David Small: I frequently go back to Chekov's stories and to the short works of Henry James and Thomas Mann. John Cheever moves me tremendously.

Since I am a visual artist, the most serious influences came from other artists. I used to get totally infected by contact with any artist whose work I admired. So, for a while, in college, I thought I was, among others, Daumier, Rembrandt, Egon Schiele and Kathe Kollwitz. I would drown myself in their ways of seeing the world, to the point that I sometimes wondered if I would ever have a style of my own.

Amazon.com: One of my favorite scenes in the book begins on p. 62, where you dive into your drawing, Alice in Wonderland-style. It struck me as a cherished fantasy. What scenes might you single out as your favorites?

David Small: I like that one also. I'm glad that you equate it with Alice, because the parallel is certainly there. In fact, though, I intended something truer to my own experience, growing up surrounded by x-rays. At six I knew that x-rays were pictures of the secret places inside us. I imagined myself going down into those shadowy places and finding--what? I don’t know. A better world, I suppose. That is what I had in mind but, as I said, I have no problem at all with the Alice reference.

The party scene--where my entire adolescent social life gets summed up in a one-page image—also seems to work well. I'm happy with all the dream sequences. The 9-page "rain" sequence, in which the landscape is used as a metaphor for a state of mind, came out as I wanted it.

Amazon.com: The illustrations early in the story on pp 22-23—rendered again, in part, towards the end of the book on pp 290-91—are at once tender and terrifying, and they look remarkably different than most of the other panels that flow between them. Can you talk more about your approach to drawing this scene?

David Small: I tried to draw it the way it felt: that is, being an infant under all that hovering, humming x-ray machinery. If I recall correctly, I put an emphasis on the child's eyes looking around him at the dials, gauges, dangling cords and the blank walls of the machines. Later, the infant's gaze is coupled with the eyes of the young man who revisits the scene in his memory. Then, as the past and present fuse together, comes a shock of revelation. He realizes that what happened to him as an infant has now reached out and shaped--perhaps even ruined--his future. The infant's face and the young man's face converge into one.

Amazon.com: You've illustrated an award-winning roster of children's books. How did writing Stitches impact your style of drawing? Were there elements that took more iterations than others?

David Small: I took the advice of artist Mark Siegel, an old hand at graphic novels who--although his style is entirely different from mine--recommended that I develop a way of drawing that is more like handwriting than regular drawing. "Otherwise," he said, "the whole process will drive you insane." I leapt on this piece of advice because it sounded so right and because it was a direction I'd been moving toward anyway, especially in my sketchbooks. This was a very different effort from my picture book work.

Amazon.com: I'm curious which section of the book you found yourself writing first. Did you find that drawing one part would help you to construct other scenes?

David Small: The scenes in the empty hospital--the elevator ride and so forth--were my strongest childhood memories. Of that whole sequence, the little fetus in the jar stood out most clearly in my mind. I found, as I started drawing, that by some natural-seeming process of visual mnemonics, I could make connections from one thing to another. Then, gradually, whole scenes and episodes would flood back. To put it a simpler way: when I could "see"--that is, draw--the room, and had it all furnished again, the actors (the ghosts) would move in and begin saying their lines. I found all that really quite remarkable.

Amazon.com: Memoirists are often asked questions about memories—the tools of their trade, in a way—but do you think memories tell the whole story?

David Small: No. They are only your memories. The other people there saw it through their own lens. It’s Rashomon. Pure truth doesn’t exist. We shouldn't insist on it, and we should always be willing to bend.

Amazon.com: The afterword to Stitches was unexpected, but I found I appreciated the visual reference points for you, and for your mother and father. Why did you feel this was important to include?

David Small: I'm glad you found them helpful. I always do, too, when I'm reading about the lives of others; I go to the photographs, maybe as a way of affirming the descriptive skills of the writer, but also to meet the subjects in a more concrete way. Now you've got me thinking. Maybe I was showing off. It was like saying, "Here! Look! I'm so certain I've done my job well that I'm not afraid to show you these people, whom I've been drawing for 300 pages." Mainly, though, it seemed like the right and fair thing to do.

Amazon.com: Reviews of Stitches seem to swivel on the question of whether the book is redemptive or cathartic. What do you think? Did you write it with any expectation of how you'd feel afterwards?

David Small: Seeing my early life again from the perspective of an adult, I came to know my family members as fellow human beings. I understood their drives. This broke the spell they had over me. It freed me of their influence. I'd had enough, frankly, of living and thinking the way they had taught me to think and behave.

Did I expect that this would happen? No. I had no expectations, only the need to do it.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:12 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"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 throat cancer and was expected to die. Small, a prize-winning children's author, re-creates a life story that might have been imagined by Kafka. Readers will be riveted by his journey from speechless victim, subjected to X-rays by his radiologist father and scolded by his withholding and tormented mother, to his decision to flee his home at sixteen with nothing more than dreams of becoming an artist. Recalling Running with Scissors with its ability to evoke the trauma of a childhood lost, Stitches will transform adolescent and adult readers alike with its deeply liberating vision."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.16)
0.5
1 2
1.5
2 11
2.5 3
3 73
3.5 27
4 233
4.5 50
5 191

W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393068579, 0393338967

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 128,805,215 books! | Top bar: Always visible