by Ken Gray
This is a book that can be read on many levels and contains many stories. It is the story of a young man’s search for meaning following the earlier death of his father. It is the story of the main character, Smokey’s, struggles to find valued employment over many years and across many attempts. It is the story of an amateur athlete facing the challenges of marathon canoe racing. Weaving through these stories is that of the crushing impact of mental illness and the realms of delusion on Smokey. Finally this is a story about a spiritual journey, ranging from Christian fundamentalism to Zen practice.
Through this fictional account of Smokey’s life, the reader develops an intimate look at a man with schizophrenia, including thoughts and actions that bring him the deepest shame. But Smokey carries on, refusing to become another suicide statistic. He learns about his illness and how to cope. His story is one of courage, rooted in a growing understanding of self and happiness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ken grew up on the Canadian prairies. His search for truth started at an early age, shortly after the death of his father. Initially he tried to reconcile his father’s death within the framework of fundamental Christianity but found that lacking. His journey subsequently took him through mental health struggles, blended with explorations in spirituality, from sorcery and shamanism to Zen practice.
Currently Ken lives in psychiatric housing in Toronto. He writes stories about, and at the request of, people with whom he lives, serving as a chronicler of life at the intersection of urban poverty, addiction, past and current traumas, and mental illness. Ken also sculpts in clay, with the common thematic thread being the struggles arising out of duality — good and evil, harsh and kind, ugly and beautiful. His artwork is raw and visceral, never pretty. His stories hurt, blunt in their concrete detailing. His search continues to move him to include all possibilities, darkness and light, toward fullness of being.
(2007, paperback, 190 pages)
Availability: Usually ships in 2-3 business days.