David Small on Family, Trauma, and His Graphic Memoir

At the April 2014 edition of Narrative Medicine Rounds, children's book author and graphic memoirist David Small sat down with Karen Green, librarian at Butler Library, to talk about his experiences with cancer, his dysfunctional family, and how therapy helped him cope with his traumatic upbringing.

Long before Small wrote and drew the children's books that earned him two Caldecott Medals, he was a teenager dying of cancer. In fact, his father had given him the disease by administering high dose radiation. Small said, "He knew what he had done, but he never talked about it." "They never told me I was dying," said the author, who went on to describe a series of chilling events: a supposedly harmless operation, the loss of his voice, lack of care from his parents, and recovery thanks to a therapist who had had similar experiences. He captures this haunting personal narrative in his latest book Stitches: A Memoir.

Listen to a recording of Small’s talk and other editions of Narrative Medicine Rounds at iTunes U. Narrative Medicine Rounds, held the first Wednesday of each month, September through May, are free and require no RSVP. View a full schedule of Narrative Medicine events here.