Another irreverent coming-of-age saga from Keck (Oedipus Wrecked, 2005, etc.).
Like David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs before him, the author enchants and occasionally horrifies with self-deprecating tales of familial dysfunction as he exposes the bumps encountered thus far on his road to self-discovery. Displaying a flair for the surprisingly droll, Keck unravels the events that prompted his exodus from graduate school at Syracuse back to his native North Carolina to try and compose himself. He wastes no time confessing his pill-popping, pot-loving proclivities and immediately draws in the reader by revealing the eccentricities that sprang from his precarious mental state. “New Year’s Eve 1999,” the memoir begins. “It was three in the morning, and I was parked at a gas station in Scranton, Pennsylvania, checking my temperature with a rectal thermometer.” Keck came by his paranoiac and bacteriophobic tendencies honestly, he demonstrates. At one point during his young adulthood, his violence-prone mother tried to rouse him out of bed by holding a butcher’s knife to his throat and yelling, “Goddammit! Get up, you bitch, or I’ll kill you!” Alongside tales of familial hardship, including moving accounts of his grandmother’s descent into dementia and his grandfather’s death, runs a humorous and sometimes poignant commentary on religion and spirituality that lends the memoir some structure. Lamenting the paucity of lines assigned to his small role in a church skit based on the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Keck can’t resist adding, “If you have but a loose association with the church, then you have most likely heard this story of Jesus whipping up a thirty-minute meal.” Cheeky views such as this set the tone in an endearing narrative that shows a lost writer slowly finding his way.
Laugh-out-loud memoir that also offers serious food for thought for those tempted to seek the comforts of home when negotiating the trials of adulthood.