Against a backdrop of the s? Bret became a casualty of his interior war and took his life in In a hundred prismatic episodes, Tricks Every Boy Can Do casts spells in search of the lost brother: climbing the water tower to stand naked under the moon, playing cowboys and Indians with real bullets, breaking into church to play a serenade for God, seeking the crevasse, fighting forest fires, struggling for love, and making bail.
In this book, through a brother's devotions, the lost saint teaches us about depression, the tender ancestry of violence, the quest for harmonious relations, and finally the trick of joy. For anyone seeking a new way to deal with old memories, this book is a kind companion.
It demonstrates how to find the good in hard stories, and forge clarity out of enigma. Even when there are gaps that cannot be filled, voids that cannot be crossed, the act of telling the story can provide the 'episodic evidence' that leans 'toward understanding' and holds the broken self together. It's difficult to tell what hurts, he explains, but 'the darkest things hurt more when they are not told. And remembering led to the writing of this beautiful and brave story -- a story in which Kim Stafford put his arm around his brother, once again.
And as they walked together, everything was OK. Help Centre. My Wishlist Sign In Join. Be the first to write a review. More filters. Sort order. Jan 11, Elizabeth rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction , oregon , memoir , poetry , literary-nonfiction. We are so lucky here in Oregon and I tend to take it for granted. One of the ways that we are lucky: so many wonderful Oregon writers. Kim Stafford is one. Better still, he is head of the Northwest Writing Institute and teaches workshops to adults. I hope to one day take a class from him.
I heard the tail end of an interview with Stafford, who also happens to be former poet laureate William Stafford's son, on our local publ We are so lucky here in Oregon and I tend to take it for granted. I heard the tail end of an interview with Stafford, who also happens to be former poet laureate William Stafford's son, on our local public radio station.
During the interview, Stafford read from this memoir and it left me wanting more, to say the least. I admit to being partial to the memoir genre and the topic of Stafford's book resonated with me. The story is organized in a series of poetic vignettes that are beautifully written and capture Stafford's own life path, as well as the emotions that are an inevitable result of the tragedy of suicide.
Somehow, in its wake, Stafford manages to be humble, reflective, self-aware, loving and forgiving. And, when appropriate, he has a sense of humor as well. While many books on the topic of suicide - whether memoir, fiction or non-fiction - tend to drag one down even further or dwell too long in places where one would rather not linger, I found Stafford's book affirming, positive and honest.
I believe that this book would be especially helpful for those who have lost a sibling in this way; my husband lost his brother to suicide a decade ago and I have recommended it to him. Yet, this book is universal. It is about relationships, choices, how we make our way and how we live our lives. I found the reference to James Hillman's "story consciousness" and the spiral metaphor that Stafford uses to describe our lives especially powerful. In our lives, we will spiral downwards, believing that we are headed for the darkest depths, but if we can recognize that the twists and the descents are only part of our story, we can climb the spiral once again.
This rising and falling, this ebbing and flowing, is life. It is our story.
Expecting the turns and the falls can save us. And, if we can find the courage to dust ourselves off and pick ourselves back up, we can start our climb once again. View 1 comment. Nov 09, Wyma rated it it was amazing Shelves: andstar. It is rare to read a book and find yourself knowing a friend so much better than you had before. I can divide my experience of reading Tricks into two parts: appreciating the book and writer, and learning about my friend. Inevitably I'll tell you about both. First, know that this is book of suicide and could be very helpful to anyone who has known someone close to end their own life.
It is also the story of two brothers, growing up almost twins they were so very close and becoming very differ It is rare to read a book and find yourself knowing a friend so much better than you had before. It is also the story of two brothers, growing up almost twins they were so very close and becoming very different men.
Finally, it is the story of anyone growing up in a close-knit family, anyone who has the courage to clearly see themselves and those they love, and tell about them. Knowing that the book dealt with the suicide of Kim Stafford's brother, I did not expect it to be so warm, lively and funny. But of course it is,because it is a story of Brett Stafford's life and his brother's life with him, and only later how the life ended.
What a time they had growing up together, sleeping in twin beds,telling each other the same bedtime rhyme at night. When he tells how they each became a bridge between beds, I can feel their small, almost weightless bodies climbing across each other to the other bed. It's the sort of thing you know if you were lucky enough to grow up in a family with a sister close in age. I was that lucky and sometimes my sister and I slept in the same full-size bed and we always went through our nighttime ritual, "Good night There are many such stories of the brothers as they grew up side by side.
Stafford relates how they grew more separate as time went on, each developing their personalities in decidedly different ways. The closeness is still there and can be accessed if only they have the courage. There is sadness as Kim talks of how desperately he wishes he could have known, could have done something - anything to help his brother in that final torment.
A death in the family is almost always fraught with equal measures of grief and guilt, and that guilt must be stronger with suicide. Still, I know how I looked back in time trying to find an answer that would have prevented my brother's death from cancer. I wanted to be his saviour and for a time actually believed I could have been. Kim portrays these feelings so purely that surely all of us find kinship in them. I will always be grateful to Kim Stafford for writing this book.
All of his books are about humanity in general and specificly about people with whom he has exchanged an understanding, maybe even love. A few years ago I had the pleasure of reading his book about his father William Stafford.
It is the life of a poet as well as the story of his own father and their family. Now Kim offers us the story of how his brother lived and ended his life and what it was like to grow up and become a man in the Stafford household. To paraphrase Kim, I think he holds his hand out to us, in it a jewel of light-his brother's face, down the long dark tunnel of time.
Jan 16, Mary Lou rated it really liked it Shelves: A short book, it is easy to read because sections are one to five pages.
With words, stories spoken, the love, in fact, goes on. My brother kept silent in his pain—and broke. This is something I will take from the book to consider over time. Jan 05, Gail rated it really liked it. It isn't a spoiler to say that this book is about the suicide of the author's brother.
Ultimately, though, the book isn't so much about the suicide as it is the relationship between the two brothers, and how their family's dynamics had a major impact on how each man "turned out. His fathe It isn't a spoiler to say that this book is about the suicide of the author's brother. His father was the poet and pacifist William Stafford.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes memoirs, or to anyone who is interested in trying to understand suicide and its "collateral damage" to the family and friends of the person who committed it. May 24, Caroline rated it it was amazing Shelves: pursuit-of-perspective , adult. Sometimes honesty can be breathtaking.
Sometimes you want to read faster, to inhale all that there is, and yet you want to read slower, to absorb all that there is.
Feb 19, Bailee marked it as could-not-finish Shelves: senior-year. I was supposed to read this for class, and I feel bad, but I really just didn't care. At all. So I ended up not reading it. Jan 03, Abby Howell rated it really liked it. I had a funny reaction to this book, perhaps in part because a former colleague of mine just committed suicide a few weeks ago. I loved the prologue, and loved the final chapters of the book. In between, I found myself getting impatient with the repetition of all of Kim Stafford's memories of his brother.
I just wanted to shout "We get it; you didn't know your brother as well as you thought you did.
Then I started reading out loud the prologue to my husband and, totally to my surprise, began to weep. Jul 20, Deborah rated it really liked it. I really liked some parts and some parts were just okay.
He has a gift for syntax and imagery. Some of the comments about memoir writing and the power of stories toward the end of the book are insightful, helping me as a teacher address some of the issues related to memoir writing. Here's one example: "The factual details of memory alone may be suspect, but the meanings they sift from the forgotten--these may be the gold we carry still when our treasure is gone. Sep 28, Trinity University Press rated it it was amazing.
Read it cover to cover. Heartbreaking yet so full of life and love. An amazing testament to family and the heart. Mar 05, Waverly Fitzgerald rated it it was amazing Shelves: memoir.
What a beautiful book. I appreciated the lovely language, the collage-like format short sections and scenes, told out of time , and learning more about the remarkable Stafford family. It begins with a scene between Kim Stafford and his son talking about the suicide of Kim's brother Bret.
Then we go back in time and learn about the events leading up to Bret's suicide. The section that follows introduces us to the two brothers, Kim and Bret, their similarities and differences, as they grow up, ge What a beautiful book. The section that follows introduces us to the two brothers, Kim and Bret, their similarities and differences, as they grow up, get married, and pursue careers Kim following in the footsteps of his father, poet William Stafford, as a writing teacher and writer.
I pulled out many lovely pieces of advice for writers William Stafford's advice for writers: Lower your standards and keep on writing. Advice from a professor Kester at the University of Oregon: read each scene in Lear seven times, one for poetry, one for ideas, one for character, one for apprehension of how the scene advances the story, etc. Or think about something you said but write about what you might have said.
That is, the task you figured out you had to do in the family drama. He reflects on the next life, how it is to know someone has gone before you, and mentions the story of Ishi, the last Indian of California and his ease once a group of anthropologists returned him to his homeland and he was able to contact his ancestors and know they were OK. Kim Stafford writes: I believe his [Bret's] death began the next life for me, in this world. I live now in a realm where everything has changed, and the old ways of hiding begin to fall away.
This is a book of questions, a beginning--not a last word, or an end. In spite of everything I can remember or try to puzzle out, my brother will remain a mystery, and his final act an enigma. For it is a trick; it doesn't just happen. I have tried to make the parts of the story I remember available for us all in what James McConkey called "the court of memory. Jul 03, Helen rated it really liked it Recommends it for: anyone who lost a loved one to suicide. Shelves: memoir , book-club. Kim Stafford's heartfelt memoir written about his brother Bret's suicide as a way to release his grief and his guilt.
Anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide will find great comfort in this book. With Bret's death, Kim 's life begins anew--life without Bret. Much is written about memory, ie, how accurate is it? Two of my favorite chapters are: Paris Rain, where he expresses deep sorrow and desolation over his loss. Watching the dwindling lights of the train leaving the station, Stafford liken Kim Stafford's heartfelt memoir written about his brother Bret's suicide as a way to release his grief and his guilt.
Watching the dwindling lights of the train leaving the station, Stafford likens it to, "watching my brother's friendship go. May 18, Kathy rated it it was amazing Shelves: memoir , oregon-author. Suicide was the trick that didn't work: this memoir begins with the suicide of Kim's older brother, and continues back and forth between their boyhood closeness and their adult separation. Kim naturally looks for clues he must have missed, and wonders why there were so many things they didn't share. This is an interesting look at a family that was unusual for the time: academic, pacifist, teetotalling, and often no better than communicating than the rest of us.
Years of pain. Sep 24, Skye rated it it was amazing. Poignant, evoked deep emotion in this reader. Stafford's prose lights the world. Oct 11, Heather rated it really liked it. It's a little difficult to describe just what this book is. The prose is chewy—I decided to wait a few days to return the book to the library so I could re-read and more closely consider certain passages.
Kim Stafford has, pardon the pun, gone for the jugular in his content, thereby exposing a personal account of what he and to some extent his family went through after his brother's suicide in the late s.
The book feels a little oddly structured at times, but contains some masterful passages It's a little difficult to describe just what this book is. The book feels a little oddly structured at times, but contains some masterful passages and some insight into the Stafford family. If you went to Lewis and Clark College like I did, you know the Stafford name which has been closely associated with the college for decades.
By page 15, I felt a tightening in my throat, recognizing the familiar negative thought patterns in Kim's dialogues with Bret. By page 40, the deed was done and a longer section of the book started offering anecdotes of Bret's life, told through a brother's quizzical lens. Towards the end we get some forward action again, as Bret's ashes are scattered and Kim moves forward with his life, which has also now included a divorce. Was it related to the suicide?
There were many pieces of this book that were significant to me personally.