Monday, April 20, 2015

"The Autumn Balloon" by Kenny Porpora (2015)

This is a searing self-portrait; written in an understated fashion; making it all the more colorful, just as the cover implies. They keep telling me not to pick the book by its cover, but I do anyway, and usually with wonderful results. This book was no exception to that method.

Kenny Propora was raised in a very unusual fashion; by very unusual people. You can tell that by the end of the first chapter when his mother is berating him for being a faggot while she drinks her Vodka. When she runs out she asks Kenny to get her a refill. Kenny was in 2nd grade at the time.

Born to a father who was several decades older than his Mom, the author grew up in a world inhabited by the uncivil war raged by his mother against the whole world; while his father’s war encompassed mostly his own failings. Still, he is a sympathetic character in an otherwise nightmarish world, where home is sometimes the family’s old broken down car.

Relationships between parent and child are hard enough without the twin demons of substance abuse and mental illness to cope with. As a child the author had to have transported himself to a “safe place” in his own mind in order to get through the ordeal presented by his particular circumstances. And that “safe place” often informs the soul of the person who is forced to retreat there. In this case that alternate world turned out an inquisitive and sensitive young man. But how much of that is the result of just blind luck and circumstances; as opposed to fate; would be hard to determine.

Although this is Mr. Porpora”s first book, if his writing here is any indication of the depth which he is capable of reaching, then we are all in for a treat with any of his subsequent books.

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