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A Life in Shadow: Divine Spark or Chemical Imbalance? Paperback – January 12, 2006
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About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
It is frightening to realise that there are many children of World War 2 who like the author will have felt `let down' by the educational system and who will have had to really struggle in order to achieve opportunities that post-war children have taken for granted.
The anger and bitterness the author feels at the deck that life has dealt him are almost tangible, the wilderness wanderings that are now the equivalent of `gap years' very understandable and the eventual immergence from the darkness of frustration and depression, with a life that puts him on a par with many `normal' families must surely give hope to others who feel that they too have been betrayed.
The author achieves this in his writing with a diary of accurate recollections often recorded in a humorous manner, and it is this that makes it so entertainingly readable. As with all psychoanalytical biographies, it is very ego-centrical, but it could be anyone's story; anyone that is whose childhood contains early trauma with long term deep seated effects, such as are caused by war, bereavement or an inherent sense of failure.
It is a really enjoyable read that not only reminds us of the effects of wartime disruption on innocent children - effects that are probably still perpetuated today - but could also explain some of the attitudes held by many others of the author's age-group who underwent similar experiences.
A conscientious journal-keeper from an early age, he has produced this remarkable book recounting his experiences as a 22-year-old emigrant to Canada and his peripatetic life, accompanied by his friend Eddie, across Canada and the United States from east to west, and in reverse again, followed by an extensive incursion into Mexico and several returns to Britain. They traveled by seond-hand auto, prone to frequent breakdowns, as well as by bus and hitch-hiking, surviving on earnings from various jobs obtained at a number of prolonged stops along the way.
Davies writes of periods of near despair interspersed with flashes of delightful humor, telling of often bizarre encounters with people and circumstances. A notable example of the latter was the two friends' ill-advised attempt to climb a 17,000-foot dormant volcano in Mexico that almost ended in disaster. In perceptive detail Davies comments on attitudes, living conditions, and mores of British, Canadian, American and Mexican inhabitants with whom he interacted during his peregrinations.
In his early thirties, Davies' fortunes took a decided turn for the better when he obtained employment with American post exchange facilites for the U.S. armed forces in Europe.Read more ›
Having said that, it is a real pleasure to read the finished product, all 411 pages, instead of just a few pages here and a few pages there. Although the book is long, it is well-written and easy to read. It is jam-packed with amusing and interesting stories, along with some that are sadder.
Alan skillfully weaves what was going on in the world into his personal story to give you the historical context and how it affected him personally. He is also honest and open about his life (without putting himself down), both the good parts and the bad. Having personally struggled with depression, I know how hard it can be to talk about, let alone admit and own fully.
Having read all of Alan's adventures that he had up to his marriage and age 34, I wonder what happened during the rest of his life. How did he end up in Georgia, for instance? Within the book itself, some things just suddenly happen - for instance, his sister Vera suddenly has a child and husband, and I'm wondering, when did she get married? Granted, the book is about Alan, not his sister, but I still wondered. There is also the minor annoyance of typos and extra periods, but easily overlooked.
I choose to believe Alan has a "divine spark", and I hope lots of people buy his book!
Alan is self taught and his stubbornness and his 'Never give up' spirit, is an inspiration for all of us. Had he had 'every thing served on a silver platter' we may never have had a chance to read his delightful adventures across several continents, and smitten by his wanderlust.
Alan remembers his blue collar Father reading several News papers a day, from cover to cover. Even if he was born in a duck pond, he came out a Royal Swan.