By Eleni Sikelianos
OCTOBER 1, 2004 • 140 pages
“The Book of Jon,” is a memoir of Jon, a man I otherwise would not have cared too much about.
Sikelianos’s writing is poignant and unsentimental all at once. And with a single thread, she skillfully weaves together poems, prose, snapshots and photographs of her brilliant, loving, heroine addicted and failing father.
What I love most about this book is that the author doesn’t beat you over the head with piercing and overinflated diction meant to force you into sympathizing with her father, with his struggle as a drug addict or his tragic journey and ending.
Instead, she just paints him, with her own imperfect yet compelling hands— and with just her words, she makes me care deeply about the story she’s telling. In many ways, I felt as if I were reading her life and that this memoir shed more insight into who she is as a person than who her father was, which makes sense because we only know Jon from her perspective. Still, this is a beautifully layered text that undoubtedly holds an abundance of love inside it without ever having to say the words, “I love you.”
“I would like to think it was that stupidity— the flood of it around him in men and women under the sway of money and time[…]— that made my father decide to step off the dark curb and out of the world. But in fact his hatred of that stupidity corrupted him so that he himself became stupid— too stupid to live” (98).
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