Sunday, October 20, 2013


Kelly Hitchcock's Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook neatly fuses womanhood, life's imperfections, stereotypes, and tattoos. The author's exploration of life's difficulties invites thoughts of resilience, strength and empathy. The narration makes 12 women who have or want tattoos feel human. As we reflect on their short stories, assumptions are exchanged for relatable experiences. The book becomes more about making the best of enduring life's curves balls that can interrupt normalcy, and less about the 'novelty' of tattoos. Snippets of 12 lives mesh with Women's Studies. What women may endure is thoughtfully explored in each portrait. Ms. Hitchcock's writing is just enough to make a reader wonder what will come next for women who haven't had easy lives.

The author effectively shows us the meaning behind each tattoo, although telling each story in first person may have reinforced the connection between protagonists and readers, or the author may have found a way to revisit her interesting premise at the end. Final thoughts coming from her may have added to the cohesiveness of the book. I wondered what inspired the story, were the portraits based on real people, and if this storybook would be the end of the subject. Another option would've been to feature less stories, capturing several in a first installment. This would allow inclusion of more emotion and details. On the other hand, I would not have been curious if the author hadn't skillfully turned a storybook into framework for a storyline.

Ms. Hitchcock manages to make tattoos interesting to those who may already embrace them, and also to those who may never have given the meaning of them a second thought. This author has broad storytelling potential that could easily be used to explore mostly any aspect of Americana. Kelly Hitchcock's Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook is original and thought-provoking. I look forward to  future projects.

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