Book Review

A Story Worth Tellin'What appears at first to be a rather outrageous memoir, eventually moves past the "documented scrapbook" and takes on the tough questions and palicidations that we all face... Written over a 50 year period, "trustory teller", Gaines, invites readers to watch (and emotionally participate) as the man emerges from the boy, searching for life's purpose and meaning. The recorded search (100 chapters; 9 passages) incorporates writer sketches and commentary, news articles, notes from psychotherapy, recorded dreams, family letters, and journal entries to examine a fast-paced life traveled through country communes, two divorces, alcohol abuse, hilarious shenanigans, numerous community organization schemes, a vision quest, plus spiritual flights and fights.

Published by Unicorn Press

Gaines will read "trustories" from the book at hosted book reading (Arranged on request).

Cost $19.45 + $2.55 s/h.

Review by Caroline Wood

Gaines Steer has composed an unconventional book: A Story Worth Tellin': a documented memoir. Written over a period of 58 years, the book presents Steer's unusual style of "trustory tell'," his personal blend of remembered facts along with the stories that have taken on a life of their own. Illustrated lavishly, in the style of The Whole Earth Catalog, with hundreds of documentary-style graphic items, Steer supports his life's stories with hard evidence: letters, photographs, school report cards, newspapers articles, journal entries, recordings of dreams, and actual notes taken by his Jungian therapist.

By distilling one hundred brief "chapters" into nine Passages, Steer provides a poignant depiction of his life and times, inviting the reader to observe and participate as the man emerges from the boy searching for healing, purpose and meaning. His story is universal, presented with a definite Southern story-tellin' style.

"All writers are story tellers", he reminds us. "Not all storytellers are writers." Gaines Steer is both.

Childhood emotional wounds, two failed marriages, communal living, alcoholism, job loss and hilarious shenanigans . . .they're all here. So, too, is his journey into self-healing, utilizing a sack full of techniques, finally emerging into the fullness of a man at peace with himself. Combining humor, angst and total vulnerability, Steer is unflinching in his offering of himself to his readers.

In pondering the question of who the reader might be, Steer states in his introduction: "Finally, Gaines has figured out the answer to the salient question that has plagued this memoir from the outset. 'Who is the audience?' Answer: me, myself and I! I have come to realize that Gaines has been one who writes to himself."

Thankfully, he has written for us, too.

— Caroline Wood, Reviewer

 

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