David Small - Stitches (4 stars)

David Small - Stitches

(WW Norton)

Award-winning writer and artist David Small draws a line from Kafka’s Gregor Samsa to the mundane confessionals of Harvey Pekar in this moving and poignant memoir of a childhood spent in the grip of illness. As a 14-year-old growing up in a lower middle-class neighbourhood of Detroit, Small woke up one morning to find himself mute, the result of a mishandled diagnosis and subsequent treatment of a tumour.

From this shocking start point, Small paints a raw portrait of a family in the grip of denial, repression, rage and frustration. Plotted and drawn with a minimalism, clarity and quiet humanity that calls to mind the later graphic novels of Will Eisner, Small is no stranger to the class and medical iniquities that disease his country (then as now), as the struggle for this child’s life becomes ever more desperate.

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