cover image You Don’t Say: Stories 2004–2013

You Don’t Say: Stories 2004–2013

Nate Powell. IDW/Top Shelf, $19.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-6030-9366-8

After storming the bestseller lists with March, his cinematic retelling of the civil rights movement, Powell returns to the more intimate and soulful scale of his earlier work (Swallow Me Whole) in this gathering of nearly a decade’s worth of shorter pieces. The quietude of the smalltown settings clash with the stories’ roiling internal chaos. The first four pieces are autobiographical, tracking his peripatetic lifestyle and work with developmentally disabled adults, and these pieces succeed as a unified rumination on meaning and isolation. Powell’s punk ideals (he ran an indie record label for 15 years and played in bands) are a double-edged sword: they push him toward finding meaning in everyday life, but lead him to be extremely hard on himself. Powell’s powerful art eschews gentle shading for sharp lines and inky black pools that frame the emotional context, though they sometimes fail to properly distinguish the characters. But when the art and text come together—as in the dreamy impressions of “Fluke,” in which Powell revisits the deserted corners of his hometown of Little Rock—everything works. (June)