Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Putting Things In Perspective

First of all, I must get my hormones out of the way before I can say anything intelligent: Doesn't this young picture of Gregory Orr remind you of Orlando Bloom??? ~Or-lando Blooooom~just the name makes me light-headed.

Alas, I feel intelligent again.

The Blessing is a phenomenal memoir about Orr's childhood (Orr shot his brother to death during a hunting accident when he was 12), his adolescence (partly spent in Haiti where his mother suddenly died), and his early adulthood (when he was imprisoned in the South TWICE for being a participant in civil rights protests).

As interesting and unique as his life experience is, what really makes this memoir most successful his poetic language, meditative reflections, fresh analogies, and unflinching ability to recreate emotion. And beyond all the craft is one of the most honest messages I've come across in my memoir reading: that life is a blessing. This was a perfect read for me to see that others waver in their faith in humanity but still push on because there really is always much more beauty than we sometimes are able to see. Orr didn't beat this message into my brain and he didn't come to it as some big-fake-f***ing realization. He wrote about it as part of his growth as a human being and artist in a very honest and humble way.

Favorite passage: "This was poetry, not poems. Poems are discrete artifacts of language that prove someone's imagination and linguistic gifts have triumphed over disorder in a definitive, shaped way. What I held onto then was not poems, but the idea of poetry--which I had to follow for years before I emerged into the light, before I could let go of the thread for a moment and sit down to write my first poem" (144-145).

I adore this book. And I imagine if I ate it, it would be one very tasty morsel.

An impressive 4 1/2 out of five very-hard-to-get Hello Kittys.

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