My ultimate compliment to a book is that it made me forget I had a review to write and convinced me to read it for pure pleasure. And more: that I need what the author has to say. Philip Simmons is a middle-aged writer who, because he has ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or motor neuron disease, as many ill people and medical dictionaries prefer to call it), left his university job in the Midwest and moved back to New Hampshire, where he grew up. Simmons never writes the full name of his disease, perhaps because he wants illness to be, in a Zen sense, nothing special: "just a particular form of the universal human malady." Though he does not discuss ALS much, it is the ever-present background to how he experiences his family, his small town (including the town dump, which he memorably describes), and a variety of sacred texts.
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