Anne Holcomb's Reviews > One More Theory about Happiness: A Memoir

One More Theory about Happiness by Paul Guest
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Jun 26, 10

bookshelves: memoirs, mademecry
Read in June, 2010

Even though I have never read any of the his poetry, as I read "One More Theory About Happiness," author Paul Guest's CV as a poet came shining through every word. I felt like I was reading a long autobiographical prose poem rather than a short memoir.

When he is 12 years old, Guest borrows a broken-down bike at a teacher's house and accidentally crashes it into a ditch, breaking both arms and fracturing his vertebrae. This book shares the results of this accident: hospitalization, and paralysis.

Guest takes readers through these life-changing experiences with a narration in which every word seems to be carefully and perfectly chosen to express what was happening to his body and mind at the time. His descriptions of the spinal-injury hospital he stays in for a while after his accident are especially striking, somehow managing to be both horrifying and comforting at the same time. Even as young Paul feels isolated from others because of what has happened to him, his language seeks out and emphasizes the human connections he feels with his family, fellow patients, friends, and later colleagues and lovers. He's especially able to recognize the frailties of others because of his own condition. This memoir is really a beautiful and satisfying read and I will definitely be seeking out Guest's books of poetry.
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