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The Blessing: A Memoir
by Gregory Orr
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The blood that would first stain Orr's childhood was spilled the year he was twelve. In that autumn, Gregory Orr shot his brother to death in a hunting accident. In this spare and poignant memoir, he tells how this horrific event shaped his life. Against backdrops of the rural Hudson Valley, a remote charity hospital in the jungles of Haiti, and the Deep South of the civil rights era where he marched and bled with other youthful demonstrators, Orr articulates his journey in language as sharp-edged and authentic as the experiences themselves. At his brother's funeral he saw "... that death was with us. It was the small white snail of wadded Kleenex my mother kept pressing against her face; it was nibbling holes in her cheek as if it were a leaf." No comfort would come from Orr's beloved though distant mother or his father, a quixotic country doctor addicted to amphetamines. He would have to make sense of life's inchoate forces on his own. Eventually, his experiences would lead him to an unexpected epiphany and a clear answer to one of life's basic questions: How do we find meaning in the face of death?
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