In light of the recent spate of suicides in the news, it is comforting for a reader to know that books can also miraculously pull you out of the murkiness of depression or wake you up if you are seized by a momentary desire to die. Kevin Powers writes with great honesty about how he had lost his will to live and used drink as his crutch. He knows that the war was one reason for the way he shut things out but he does not lay the blame squarely on what happened to him. He does remember from the blurred years of his going adrift that he attempted to read:
As I drifted further and further into my quarantined stupor, my attempts to read anything became ridiculous, often resulting in a book held diagonally in a trembling hand, examined with one eye squinted and the other shut, until I eventually added the reading of books to the many other higher order activities that had once separated me from the rest of the nonhuman animal kingdom and that I could no longer reliably perform. But one day, for some reason, I picked up “The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas” and found that the following oft-quoted lines of Thomas’s provided me with a moment of, for lack of a better word, grace: “These poems, with all their crudities, doubts, and confusions, are written for the love of Man and in praise of God, and I’d be a damn’ fool if they weren’t.”
Enough said. Read What Kept Me From Killing Myself by Kevin Powers.