One More Theory About Happiness
By Paul Guest
(Ecco, Paperback, 9780061685187, 208pp.)
Publication Date: May 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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Whiting Award-winning poet Paul Guest was twelve years old, racing down a hill on a too-big, ancient bicycle when he discovered he had no brakes. Trying to steer into anything that would slow him down, he hit a ditch, was thrown over the handlebars, and broke his neck.
One More Theory About Happiness follows a boy into manhood, his path marked by a hard-earned acceptance and a biting sense of humor. In incisive and lyrical prose, Guest shows us that a body irrevocably changed can lead to a life fiercely cherished.
Paul Guest is the author of three poetry collections, The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World, which won the 2002 New Issues Prize in Poetry; Notes for My Body Double, which won the 2006 Prairie Schooner Book Prize; and My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge. The recipient of a 2007 Whiting Award, he lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Susan Stamberg gathers recommendations from booksellers Rona Brinlee, Lucia Silva and Daniel Goldin. Their selections for summertime reading include books about small-town America, a polygamist father in over his head, and a postmistress in New England during World War II. More at NPR.org
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“Guest’s poems combine furious rage with furious excitement in long, breathless lines that, at the last possible moment, break.”
-New York Review of Books
“Guest writes more directly than ever before about his paralysis.... Guest’s work, which cannot redeem his brokenness or ours...makes something beautiful out of it. And that is enough.”
-New York Times Book Review
“[Guest] tells his story in short scenes that break to white space before they might prompt pity. He zigzags before we might hold him up as an example, a symbol...His memoir voice is gentle and matter-of-fact. His details are astounding and unforgettable.”
-Dallas Morning News
“Guest remembers; gently, carefully, painfully, each new milestone from the accident forward. He is blessed with a sharp sense of humor...it is an effervescent book: irrepressible, buoyant.”
-Los Angeles Times
“Never mawkish or grim, Guest’s lyrical narrative ability tempers the heft of his experience, but the tender age at which he endured this grueling ordeal resonates on every page. Inspiring and courageous.”
“I read this book in one sitting....Heartbreakingly funny, pitilessly honest, [this] is above all a quiet and bold and loving work of art that renders beautifully what it means to live. You must read this book.”
-Bret Lott, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Sweet and beautiful and wrenching. By so generously providing a window into his own difficult experience, Guest shows us how profoundly fragile the human body truly is, how quickly our lives can be changed forever...and most importantly, how it’s possible to create a new definition of wholeness.”
-Said Sayrafiezadeh, author of WHEN SKATEBOARDS WILL BE FREE
“[An] unbelievable story...[about] an unthinkable situation, a deep level of hell, really. Guest is never self-pitying, never gets sentimental; this is not feel good tripe, or inspirational; it is deeper and more important than that—smart and honest and clear eyed and above all, humane.”
-Charles Bock, bestselling author of BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN
“Lean, arresting . . . With zero gush and sentiment, [Guest] conveys [a] quiet heroism . . . Guest is an unconventional and provocative observer of himself. And of us, the ‘able-bodied.’ ”
“Far from a saccharine ‘triumph of the human spirit,’ Guest’s memoir is marked by his winning humor and bare-naked honesty, distilled into poetic prose....alert[s] us to the amazing ability of the human body and mind to reconcile with an unbearable reality.”
“[A] tightly written, candid memoir...[Guest] unearths a poet’s faculty for succinct, smart description, narrating his own life in this memoir as a surprisingly dispassionate observer.”
-Cleveland Plain Dealer
“[A] graceful and unflinching account....a remarkable journey that Guest, who possesses a dark sense of the absurd and an eye for the vulnerability of both the injured and the whole, presents in scenes that run the gamut from the horrific to the sublime.”