Reading Silence

Christopher Hitchens, National Book Award Finalist for God is Not Great, recently wrote about his journey into voicelessness in this Vanity Fair article.  He said, in part:

“Like health itself, the loss of such a thing can’t be imagined until it occurs. In common with everybody else, I have played versions of the youthful “Which would you rather?” game, in which most usually it’s debated whether blindness or deafness would be the most oppressive. But I don’t ever recall speculating much about being struck dumb. (In the American vernacular, to say “I’d really hate to be dumb” might in any case draw another snicker.) Deprivation of the ability to speak is more like an attack of impotence, or the amputation of part of the personality. To a great degree, in public and private, I “was” my voice.”

His words reminded me of another National Book Award Finalist, Stitches by David Small, a graphic memoir in which Small loses his voice after a surgery as a young teenager.  Small takes readers into his family and the way that secrets and silence played such a huge role in his life long before he found himself all but silent.   It is a powerful story that is ultimately about finding one’s own voice and the perspective that temporarily losing such an important aspect of our identity can bring.

This video gives you a glimpse into the book: