A stitch in time can save nine, but Caldecott-winning children’s book author David Small’s unloving parents spared him not a one, as Stitches, his graphic memoir of his harrowing childhood, makes clear. Small was a sickly child, and his radiologist father subjected him to repeated X-rays, believing it would cure his sinus problems. When a lump materialized on his neck, his mother complained about the expense and put off surgery for three years. Small emerged from multiple operations at 14 unable to speak, and only learned later that he’d had cancer. Like Alison Bechdel’s genre-bending Fun Home, Stitches melds ink-washed drawings and incisive captions to tell Small’s devastating story about growing up in a silent, angry household with miserable parents. With its menacing, child’s-eye view of Detroit smokestacks, hospital corridors, and scowling, bespectacled adult faces looming up close, Stitches reads like a silent horror movie. Communication in the Small household was nonverbal: "Mama had her little cough," he opens, which augured her unexplained rages. His father "thumped a punching bag. That was his language." His older brother, who grew up to become a percussionist with the Colorado Symphony, beat his drum. And little David, "born anxious and angry," got sick. David is saved by a wonderful psychiatrist, depicted as Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit, who helps defang his nightmares -- including his parents -- and makes him realize that drawings are his language. Small writes, "Art became my home. Not only did it give me back my voice, but art has given me everything I have wanted or needed since." Stitches leaves the reader speechless -- stunned at its power and perfect pitch.

April 16: ""Blue pottery vases and bowls for flowers are most attractive, and certain blue books...will repeat and emphasize color."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.