Thursday, May 16, 2013

Shelf Life [adult]

A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden By Stephen Reid
819.354 Reid

Looking for a book that surprises you? This may be your ticket. Stephen Reid wrote A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden from prison where he is currently serving an 18-year sentence for bank robbery. He is a Canadian author though I tackle with my sense of CanLit pride on this one. Reid’s writing is deeply thoughtful; one can feel his head clearing after lengthy heroin and cocaine addictions, his heart longing for his daughters, and his regret for his life choices unbearable. I personally cannot fully accept Reid as a friend or even someone I can relate to - he has done too much harm and hurt too many people including himself.  I can, however, appreciate his voice. While reading I was at times moved to tears and in other moments I laughed along with Reid’s dark sense of humour. There is an immense feeling of sadness pervading this compilation of narrative threads and, in my opinion, not a lot of hope and light. Of his teenage daughter he says, “I have not been in the natural presence of my daughter since she was ten years old”.  A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden is not necessarily a beach read but one that requires personal soul-searching and reflection, like sucking on a hard candy the pleasure is slow and gradual. This is a man who has made many mistakes in life but also experienced many triumphs, a soul tortured by addiction and thrill-seeking, but ultimately, one that still struggles to find his place and a sense of peace despite his wrongdoings. I strongly recommend this short piece of non-fiction to readers with the suggestion to read slowly and with care, there is a lot of power between the slim 133 pages.

This review appears in The Stratford Gazette on May 16, 2013. Written by Laura Paprocki, Librarian.

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