Saturday, January 18, 2014

(Re)-Inventing Yourself

Book Review: The Answer to the Riddle is Me by David MacLean

What would you do if you suddenly found yourself in a foreign country, with no recollection of how you got there, or even who you were? I, for one, have never had to answer that question. David MacLean not only had to face that question, but went on to tell about it in his fine work, The Answer to the Riddle is Me.

His subtitle, A Memoir of Amnesia (isn't that an oxymoron?) gives a clue to his often tongue-in-cheek humor in confronting the conundrum of 'who is David MacLean?' For most of us it would be impossible to find anything amusing in losing our identity. MacLean relates the random thoughts that rebounded through his head, and manages to keep a human face on an inhuman experience.

Under that veneer of irreverent bravado, there is sheer terror. Like a drowning man, MacLean finds himself grasping at straws in an effort to stay afloat in his hallucinatory hell. He desperately grabs on to anything and anyone that might give him a clue as to who he was/is. In some cases he finds himself caught between his two selves - the David MacLean he was, a portrait held by family and friends; and the David MacLean he is, who finds that "continuing on in the world of the sane is harder than you thought."

"My hallucinations left me feeling like the inside of my soul had been flapped out for the world to see; the shame I'd carried through my life had bubbled out and been exposed to the air, and now it wouldn't recede." Epiphany is not always a joyful, uplifting experience; sometimes it can be downright painful, even depressing. "The Answer to the Riddle" is an intense, deeply personal ride through the inner workings of a mind that has had the "reset" button pushed, and the effort of moving forward from that experience. Sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing, always human, this is one of the most honest books I have ever read.

No comments:

Post a Comment