In Small’s stunning graphic novel, Russell’s stumbles through a world of bullies, desires, kindnesses, and griefs play out against evocative, minimalist drawings that both capture and resist nostalgia for small-town life in the 1950s. Home After Dark is a haunting, startlingly quiet work that nonetheless speaks volumes about the essential disquiet of mid-century masculinity. Recommended By Rhianna W., Powells.com
David Small's gripping graphic novel, Home After Dark, is both gritty and tender, a look into a young teen's life as he navigates a tumultuous, dysfunctional relationship with his father and burgeoning friendships, which in 1950s California has undercurrents of violence, racism, and homophobia. Although it's set decades in the past, the prejudices and cruelty have an all-too-real feeling in the modern day, which makes reading books like this so important. Recommended By Maya M., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
David Small’s long-awaited graphic novel is a savage portrayal of male adolescence gone awry like no other work of recent fiction or film.
Wildly kaleidoscopic and furiously cinematic, Home After Dark is a literary tour de force that renders the brutality of adolescence in the so-called nostalgic 1950s, evoking such classics as The Lord of the Flies. Thirteen-year-old Russell Pruitt, abandoned by his mother, follows his father to sun-splashed California in search of a dream. Suddenly forced to fend for himself, Russell struggles to survive in Marshfield, a dilapidated town haunted by a sadistic animal killer and a ring of malicious boys who bully Russell for being “queer.” Rescued from his booze-swilling father by Wen and Jian Mah, a Chinese immigrant couple who long for a child, Russell betrays their generosity by running away with their restaurant’s proceeds. Told almost entirely through thousands of spliced images, once again “employ[ing] angled shots and silent montages worthy of Alfred Hitchcock” (Washington Post, on Stitches), Home After Dark becomes a new form of literature in this shocking graphic interpretation of cinema verité.
Grappling with questions of identity and society, the story has the authenticity and ache of universal experience — filtered through the singular eye of a visionary. Powerful and profound.” Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
“Veteran artist and illustrator Small turns a deeply focused lens onto the isolation, loneliness, and relentless cruelty of male adolescence in this immensely powerful new work....The illustrations, limited to pen, ink, and washes done in a simple, loosely sketched style, convey the nuanced range of emotion of all things left unsaid. Spare and powerful, this is not to be missed.” Booklist (Starred Review)
With strikingly few words, Small tells Russell’s story in close-ups of bullies’ sneers and bird’s-eye views of parking lots....In depicting the toll of the harsh environment surrounding these lost boys, Small unearths an (almost) impossible tenderness.” Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
About the Author
David Small, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Stitches, is the recipient of the Caldecott Medal, the Christopher Medal, and the E. B. White Award. He and his wife, the writer Sarah Stewart, live in Michigan.
David Small on PowellsBooks.Blog
I’m always looking for music I can work to during long days in the studio, music that won’t break my focus, won’t pull me this way and that, won’t grab me by the shirtfront and tell me what to think or feel. This quest has, during work hours, landed me squarely in the camp of the Minimalists, but I am also not immune to having my emotions ripped up...