The three authors participating in VFOB's "When Life Takes a Turn" panel have all faced adversity in their lives in different ways. Two have serious illnesses and one helped her daughter recover from a traumatic brain injury. In reading their books, I focused on the theme of this panel -- facing hardships and healing.
Russell U. Richards' book, The Arts and Innards of Russell U. Richards!, was specific and detailed in chronicling both the writer's artistic journey and the natural history of his illness, ulcerative colitis. At times quite blunt and detailed, this made for a good story.
I would not be surprised to learn that this book was dictated, as it reads very much as if Richards is just telling the reader his story. The author's voice, while not polished, is authentic and because it is, his story is quite compelling, equally as compelling as the reproductions of his artwork which are printed in the book. The way health and artistic life are intertwined in the story is interesting. Richards' art is not easily categorized but I really enjoyed a lot of it, particularly The Isle of Life which is brimming with, well, life and color.
Riding at Fairhunt seems meant for a younger audience, possibly young people beginning a life of horsemanship. Susan Skolnick-Lozano delivers advice about life and attitude among the practical rules of riding. I would have been interested to hear more about her daughter's recovery post-traumatic brain injury. What she writes is brief and to the point, and her can-do positive attitude permeates the story.
Jack's Shop, while a nostalgic memoir of growing up in Madison County, ends just as the author/narrator, James Herndon, is coming down with encephalitis. The author is thus presumed to have lived through the adversity of a serious illness, but it all takes place after the time period covered by the book. The author plans two sequels, however.
I look forward to hearing these three writers talk about their experiences at the panel this Wednesday. I hope you'll join me there.
Wed. March 18th, 2009 6:00 PM
James Herndon (Jack's Shop: Beyond the Front Porch), Susan Skolnick-Lozano (Riding at Fairhunt... For Love, Life and Therapy) and Russell Richards (The Arts and Innards of Russell U. Richards!) discuss their books of personal difficulties and triumphs.