Tuesday, September 8, 2009

David Smalls' Graphic Memoir

I've never made a secret of the fact that I find it very difficult to read graphic novels. The only graphic novel I've ever bought was V for Vendetta, which I loaned to a friend before I read it and then moved 800 miles away before I got it back. Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw this article in The New York Times, "Finding a Voice in a Graphic Memoir", and found myself interested in reading a graphic novel for the first time... ever, really.

The graphic novel in question is Stitches, by David Small. It's an autobiography that explores how Small's parents virtually "stole" his voice from him when he was a young boy:

"Roughly a half century ago, when Mr. Small was 14, he underwent an operation his parents told him was to remove a cyst in his neck but which he discovered by chance had been throat cancer. The surgery left him without one of his vocal cords or his thyroid gland. And, for nearly a decade, he couldn’t speak above a hoarse whisper.

"The matter of young David’s cancer was not discussed in the Smalls’ Detroit house except for a brief occasion a year after the operation. His father, an aloof and withholding radiologist, attempted to unburden himself of the knowledge that the extensive radiation treatments he had performed on his son had caused the cancer. 'In those days we gave any kid born with breathing difficulty X-rays,' his father confesses in the book. 'Two to four hundred rads. I gave you cancer.'"

This gave me the chills the first time I read it. I'm going to pick it up as soon as I get the chance, if only for the novel experience of actually buying a graphic novel.

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