Books by Thomas Simmons

A SEASON IN THE AIR by Thomas Simmons
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

An unusual melding of the author's experiences as a pilot and his hunger to take control of his life. Here, Simmons (Nonfiction Writing/University of Iowa) continues the story of his struggle to break out of the mold that cast him as a ``good boy,'' doing always what others expected of him. In The Unseen Shore (1991), he described his escape from the rigid Christian Science doctrines enforced by his mother. Now, he carries on with his search for self-fulfillment—a search that here results in the dissolution both of a marriage bedeviled by money problems and of an apparently stultifying career teaching nonfiction writing at MIT. Also covered is the author's conquest over his dread of flying, and his eventual attainment of a pilot's license. Navigating a small plane, with only his skill separating him from death, Simmons feels that he's at last the master of his own fate. His telling of the delights and dangers of flying makes for exciting reading—but less enjoyable is the picture of a self- absorbed individual who goes into hock for flying lessons as he searches for his true self, even while his family struggles to make ends meet. Comparing his psychological breakthrough with what he believes to have been the thwarted ambitions of his father, Simmons concludes, ``Don't die from your good intentions.'' A fascinating yet disturbing look at flying and self- discovery. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 28, 1991

Delicate look at an unusual childhood by an author who has published poems and essays in The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor. Simmons was raised as a Christian Scientistthat is, as a believer in the ``Father-Mother God'' and in the absolute contrast between the ``mortal mind'' or ordinary people and the pure spiritual mind of fellow Christian Scientists. Most of this book records his difficult divorce from this American-bred church, which denies the reality of physical phenomena and therefore, in its most famous tenet, rejects the values of modern medicine. Whenever Simmons got sick as a kid, the cure was prayeralthough sometimes his mother would ``fill a heavy old woolen sock with salt, heat it in the oven, and place it over my ear.'' Such unorthodox treatment usually meant long bouts of pain, assuaged by the child's sense of living in a world enfolded in God's love. Simmons dwells wistfully on his mother, who found her artistic abilities thwarted by church and societal expectations, his ``hard'' father, and the Christian Science Church, which ``enchained us with its freedom.'' In time he found escape through model-building, motorcycle-riding, sex, poetry, and the joys of his own family, especially his son, whom he raises by the dictates of conventional medicine. Too much family material that will interest few outside the Simmons clan, and the author loves the pretentious phrase (``And that love made it possible for the architecture of my words to mean something.''). Nonetheless, the details of this Christian Science upbringing enthrall. Read full book review >