Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Review: No Permanent Scars by Michael Hemery

Title:No Permanent Scars
Author:Michael Hemery
Publisher:Silenced Press
Pub. Date:01/31/2011
ISBN:0979241065 (ISBN-13 9780979241062)

No Permanent Scars reads how creative nonfiction should read: Like fiction. Like nonfiction. Like memoir. Like humor. Like literature. Like life. It’s about childhood, adulthood, the neighborhood and what it means to be a kid, a parent, a teacher, a human. Michael Hemery illuminates an honest working-class existence, offering both the sober realities of class discrimination and the humor and love of family. Intertwined with serious issues such as suicide, alcoholism, abuse, religion, and immigration, Hemery also endures a painfully slow and often naive coming of age (he once mistook an obvious prostitute for an office supply store employee). This is going to be the best book you’ll read this year.

(Summary and cover via Goodreads)

This book is a basically a memoir told in a series of non-fiction essays. It skips around chronologically but combines different parts of the author's life to touch on different themes. A wide variety of themes are discussed, ranging from humorous to serious and everything in-between. Although this book differs from  memoir in that you don't necessarily get a "life story", you certainly get a very good sense of the who the author is.

The essays vary from very short to much more detailed. I had a hard time connecting with some, but there were many that I absolutely loved. I particularly enjoyed the stories about his piano playing "career" and his teaching career. Although they varied greatly in tone, they were both prime examples of great writing. I was also amazed that the author was able to convey a lot of emotions in very few words sometimes. The sections involving his wife tended to be short, but you absolutely can feel the affection and love that is there. He made me love his wife and parents, which can sometimes be hard to do when dealing with some of the tough subject matter in here.

I thought this book was very good. There is beautiful flow to the stories. I think that it's rather fascinating to get to see inside of a person, and the author certainly lays it all out there for you. In holding nothing back, you get to live parts of his life with him. It seems like despite what may have been some tough times, he has weathered the various storms rather well. When a book like this makes me think the author and I could be friends, I feel like it's done a great job.

Book provided for review by Librarything First Reads.

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