cover image The Tenderness of Stones

The Tenderness of Stones

Marion Fayolle, trans. from the French by Geoffrey Brock. New York Review Comics, $32.95 (144p) ISBN 978-1-68137-298-3

This poignant fable charts a family’s complex response to illness. Fayolle (In Pieces) opens with the narrator’s announcement that her family has buried one of her dad’s lungs, depicted as large enough to require several pallbearers, who lay it to rest in a field. She remarks on how somber everyone is about this circumstance, but holds out hope that her father is just playing a tasteless joke (as he is wont to do). Soon after, however, other parts of his body begin to detach, as people in white coats arrive, until he is forced to wear his nose on his neck, carry his other lung behind him, and borrow his daughter’s mouth to be able to speak. Eventually the narrator is forced to acknowledge that her father’s transformation is real and unstoppable. Fayolle’s picture book panels teem with emotive hatching and cross-hatching, and wordless sequences swell with pathos, perched over cursive lettering by Dean Sudarsky, much like an illustrated, fantastical diary. Fayolle’s visual storytelling makes a profound statement about how people attempt to understand and respond to the process of watching a loved one being eroded and to accepting their mortality. (Sept.)