Read for the Words

Having read the Kindle sample for Ian Morgan Cron’s Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir. . . of Sorts and considered its $1.99 sale price, I’m contemplating buying the book. If I do — I still haven’t decided — then a bit of self-justification is needed. You know about my reluctance (and stinginess) for buying books that I can get from a library already, but in this case, my demurral is compounded by the fact that Mr. Cron’s book is a work that, in his words, “dances on the hyphen between memoir and autobiographical fiction”.

Memoirs, that mushy, hug-the-readers-to-its-bosom genre. Even when it successfully resists becoming tattletales or lurid and prurient stories of drugs and sex, the genre often lacks for any historical significance or consequence outside of those few persons involved. Contemporary fiction (autobiographical and otherwise), that genre I’m as lost in as an innocent abroad. Even when I feel that I should read one or another literary giant of our times, I often end up . . . not.

Added to this cross-breed of memoir/fiction is the fact that Mr. Cron is a complete unknown to me. He’s no Winston Churchill writing his personal account of WWII. He doesn’t have the saving grace of being connected to a world event. His book is no bottom-up look to a subject of wider interest, no a memoir from a gulag guard, a serf, or a soldier at the battle of Okinawa. No, Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me is, as far as I can tell, really about Mr. Cron. Why would I shell out money for a purely personal account of a person who makes no claim to be speaking about any subject of public interest?

The answer must lie in Mr. Cron’s style, his graceful dance with words. How can one read words such as these and not admire Mr. Cron’s craftsmanship?

When I first discovered the picture in my mother’s desk, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that the boy in the boat was not waving and laughing at the person snapping the photo as much as he was frantically trying to get the attention of the man I am today. He was beckoning me to get into the boat . . .

Home is where we start, and whether we like it or not, our life is a race against time to come to terms with what it was or wasn’t. The boy was calling me to join him on a voyage through the harrowing straits of memory. He was gambling that if we survived the passage, we might discover an ocean where the past would become a wind at our back rather than a driving gale to the nose of our boat. This book is a record of that expedition.

Unsentimental soul that I am, the books that I value most stand out neither in their artifactual importance nor literary creativity. Informational content hypnotizes me. But if I end up reading Mr. Cron, I will be reading for his words.

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