cover image The Heart That Fed: A Father, a Son, and the Long Shadow of War

The Heart That Fed: A Father, a Son, and the Long Shadow of War

Carl Sciacchitano. Gallery 13, $29.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-982102-93-7

In this potent graphic novel, cartoonist Sciacchitano (The Army of Dr. Moreau) unpacks his father’s war stories. After signing up for the Air Force in 1965, college dropout David Sciacchitano was sent to Vietnam, where he witnessed enough horrors—Viet Cong prisoners left to die in the sun, U.S. advisers tortured and executed—to cause nightmares that he half-jokes are so constant “you almost miss them when they don’t show up.” Sciacchitano takes an open, curious approach to digging into the origins of his father’s rage, which his dad insists is not PTSD (“Enough of this Oliver Stone shit,” David snaps at Carl’s mother). Unlike many children of Vietnam veterans, Sciacchitano heard plenty (“It’s hard to remember a weekend with my dad that didn’t revolve around bowls of pho and war stories,” he writes), but the narrative is still structured as an investigation, with Sciacchitano interviewing David, conducting research, and reconstructing his father’s memories. Subtly sketched, with pops of emotive rawness in dialogue and evocative drawings, the book elegantly braids David’s professional arc (military, Foreign Service, war victims’ NGO work) with his psychological journey. The result is a complex and empathetic portrait of war and its consequences. [em]Agent: Anjali Singh, Anjali Singh Agency. (June)[/em]