Stigmata

Lorenzo Mattotti, Author, Claudio Piersanti, Author
Lorenzo Mattotti and Claudio Piersanti, Fantagraphics, $19.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-60699-409-2
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When a man living a hardscrabble life suddenly exhibits signs of stigmata, his tumultuous journey to find—and accept—redemption is beautifully evoked by Italian screenwriter and novelist Piersanti (Luisa and the Silence) and graphic novelist Mattotti (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). Surviving by stray bartending jobs, which only fuel his alcoholism, the nameless man is a loner, but when his palms begin bleeding inexplicably, he's suddenly thrust into the spotlight. The pressure too much to bear, he explodes violently and leaves town to find his uncle—whom he hasn't seen since childhood—last seen traveling with a small carnival. Though his uncle is in jail, the man finds unlikely companionship with the other carnies, particularly a woman named Lorena. Instead of hiding the stigmata, the man agrees to go on display, and they construct a makeshift temple called the House of Blessings, where customers pay for the man to anoint them with his blood. But soon someone from the man's past comes back for vengeance, leading to the man's spiral toward spiritual and physical death. With Mattotti's furious black and white illustrations perfectly reflecting the man's growing inner turmoil, Piersanti's morality tale is haunting yet hopeful. (Jan.)
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