Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Stitches, In Between, and Breathless

1/1/10 It’s a New Year – and time to experiment! Here’s a quick look at a few recent releases that don’t fit into your usual categories.

Stitches: A Memoir by David Small (Norton, $24.95) is not your average book, despite looking like one from the outside. After all, it’s got a dustjacket, it’s published by a major press and seems to be just another gritty memoir if you believe the book’s inside flap. Once you open it up – you enter the world of the graphic novel. For the uninitiated, that doesn’t mean it’s full of dirty words. The entire book consists of detailed black and white drawings, word balloons and subtext that relates Small’s experiences growing up in Detroit in the 1950’s.

Small’s family was more than a little eccentric. The award-winning children’s illustrator explores a variety of unusual situations, including the title vignette, where the teen-ager survives unusual medical procedures that will alter his life drastically. Stitches is an amazing, mesmerizing memoir that well deserves its selection as one of Michigan’s Notable Books of the year.

In Between by fantasy author R.A. MacAvoy
(Subterranean, $35) is more of a novelette, coming in at just under 100 pages. It explores strange happenings in the life of Ewen Young, a talented artist. He’s attacked by three Chinese thugs after leaving an art show; they want to send a message to Ewen’s Uncle Jimmy, who owes a major gambling debt. Soon, his relative is killed; Ewen is severely injured, but comes back from the dead, being in an “in-between” state for a while.

MacAvoy offers a satisfying conclusion to an unusual tale; the limited
edition book is autographed and features a wonderful cover art by Maurizio Manzieri.

Breathless by best-selling writer Dean Koontz
(Bantam, $28) is a bizarre but somewhat perplexing tale. Even loyal fans are likely to be puzzled about where the plot is really headed. Characters include a veteran with his trusty Irish wolfhound, a dedicated veterinarian, a scheming survivalist, a chaos theory expert, an experienced hit man, a devious lawyer and a huge homeless man. Throw in a pair of frolicking, likable glowing life forms – and you’ve got the usual, unusual Koontz book. It’s an intriguing, fast-paced tale with a few surprises and a touch of inspiration thrown in for good measure.

Ray Walsh
This review also appeared in the
Lansing State Journal on Sunday, January 1, 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment