Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Man Who Learned to Walk Three Times by Peter Kavanagh

ISBN: 978-0-345-80852-3

I'm a really big fan of memoirs. I like the organic rawness of them, the possibility that just because someone remembers something one way, it doesn't mean it necessarily happened like that. There's no real science, just memories and describing your life to the best of your abilities.

There was a lot of science in The Man Who Learned to Walk Three Times, though. Not in a bad way--I'm not trying to say that didn't appreciate it. In fact, I'm not really sure that I did, but that may just be me. 

Peter Kavanagh tells his story. He was born with polio in the early 1950s during the height of the Canadian epidemic. His father worked on numerous construction sights across Canada, so his family was constantly on the move. He struggled throughout his childhood. He was bullied and so lashed out, using his mind as a weapon to become the predator. As you can imagine, it was difficult. One leg was longer than the other. He had to wear a brace. It wasn't smooth sailing. Finally, at the age of 12, he, with his family, decided to undergo hip surgery--hip displaysia being a worrisome problem caused by the polio. Unfortunately, this meant living the entire next year in a body cast. 

If you thought things were going to get easier, you were wrong. I suppose you wouldn't think that, though, given the title of the book and the fact that he hasn't learned to walk three...anyway, you get it!

Kavanagh took advantage of his longer leg. He stopped using a brace and started wearing sneakers. Bad decisions. His foot couldn't handle the pressure and so he would break it several times. 

Later on in life, Kavanagh suffered through numerous other ailments, culminating in another hip surgery. 

All through the book, the author does a wonderful job describing all the medical problems and procedures he had to endure. He is a self-proclaimed man of words and there was no shortage of them in the book. For those who like lengthy descriptions, this is wonderful: Kavanagh does a remarkable job in walking the reader through every detail in a very comprehensive manner. On the other hand, if you think--as Polonius did in Hamlet--that brevity is the soul of wit, you, my friend, may be at wits end upon concluding The Man Who Learned to Walk Three Times.

So what did I think about the book? I'm still not sure. I certainly respect Kavanagh's will and ability to overcome the medical nightmares that most could only have nightmares about. I'm uncertain, though, that this is a memoir, so to speak. It's certainly genre bending, if that means anything.

So yeah, I liked it as a medical journal blended with the most pertinent parts of a life story. Not really as a memoir though.

You should probably read it to make more sense of what I'm saying.

It will be released on April 14, 2015.

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