ONE MORE THEORY
BY PAUL GUEST
Paul Guest was twelve years old, racing down a hill on a too big, ancient bicycle, when he discovered he had no brakes. Steering into anything that would slow down the bike, he hit a ditch, was thrown over the handlebars, and broke his neck.
One More Theory About Happiness follows a boy into manhood, from the harrowing days immediately after his accident to his adult life as a teacher, award-winning poet, and soon-to-be husband. With wit, courage, and an unstoppable drive to live a life of his own creation—stemming in part from his remarkable parents, who insisted he return to school only days after arriving home from the hospital—Paul makes peace with his paralysis. As he grows older, he transforms it with his art, cultivating his lifelong gift for language into a searing poetic sensibility that has earned him praise from the highest ranks of American letters (“Wonderful”— John Ashbery; “Astonishing”—Jorie Graham; “Fierce and unnerving”—Robert Hass).
An unforgettable story—shatteringly funny, deeply moving, and breathtakingly honest—One More Theory About Happiness takes us from a body irrevocably changed to a life fiercely cherished.ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Paul Guest's's first book, The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World, won the 2002 New Issues Prize in Poetry, and his second book, Notes for My Body Double, won the 2006 Prairie Schooner Book Prize. The recipient of a 2007 Whiting Award, his latest book is a memoir, One More Theory about Happiness. He lives in Atlanta, GA.
Paul Guest writes an honest, poignant, often times funny, and decisively optimistic memoir in ONE MORE THEORY ABOUT HAPPINESS. I have read more and more memoirs of late and must say I am lucky because most of them have been interesting, entertaining, and engaging stories. ONE MORE THEORY ABOUT HAPPINESS definitely is one of them. The story Paul tells with such eloquence and candidness that you feel you are right beside him as he tells his tale begins with his senseless childhood accident that led to a broken neck when he was only 12. He flipped over the handlebars of a bicycle and landed in a ditch, breaking two vertebrae in his neck, as well as both arms. From his youthful point of view, he describes the accident rather simply but resoundingly full of emotion. He learns early in the post-accident time that he is, and will be, a quadriplegic for life, as his diagnosis was bleak from the start . He is almost reborn into a new life of hospitals, rehabilitation centers, surgeries, and the loss of anything much to have control of, at least physically.
Soon after the accident, Guest was relocated from his home in Chattanooga to a rehabilitation center in Atlanta. There they chose the lesser of two evils in hopes of repairing his broken body somewhat by putting Paul into a fiberglass vest and then placed a ‘halo’ around, and screwed into, his head. I thought the name halo was appropriate for anyone who could stand having their head immobilized by placing screws into his skull to hold it in place. Anyone who endures that must be a saint or angel of some kind. Sadly it didn‘t work and Paul Guest had to have the surgery after all. He spent his rehab time learning to use an electric wheelchair, exercises to try and keep him limber, and adjusting to simple everyday tasks he could no longer do without help. Upon leaving rehab, Paul is sent out to “the real world” and his life returns to as normal as it could be in his condition.
Paul Guest writes about the rest of his adolescence and on into his early adult life with examples of the indignities as well as the special times in such a heart warming manner that you laugh and cry at the same time. I loved the part about him riding the “short bus” for special needs children as my husband drives just such a school bus so I know what it's like. Guest does it with humor and heartbreak, sadness and strength, that is hard to believe. Amazingly Paul Guest keeps his sense of humor even with the pain and anger and humiliation he endures. His strength and spirit allow him to grow to be a valuable human being who is able to participate in and contribute to the world he lives in. This is not a memoir to make you feel sorry for Paul Guest but rather one that allows you to be inspired by him. I will keep reading memoirs if they can all be this good. Kudos to Mr. Guest and thank you for your inspirational and enjoyable memoir.
AT HARPER COLLINS PUBLISHING,
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