AUTHOR: Colin Broderick
This, my friends, is an absolutely incredible memoir. Colin Broderick conveys his horrific battle with drugs and alcohol - as well as his struggles with being an Irish immigrant in the late 90's - with such wit, profound honesty and courage that it's almost not to be believed.
The title of the book - Orangutan - bases itself on his extraordinarily astute description of his addictions. He describes it multiple times in the book as being akin to literally turning into a raging animal once his addiction is set off. His descriptions of losing his civil human qualities over to a insanity based animal are vivid and convey his message better than anything I could have imagined.
Beyond being just another book about addiction, Broderick's memoir is a thought provoking and astute exploration of the experience of being an immigrant in a country that turns out not to be the gold mine of existence that immigrants are often led to believe it will be. It opened my eyes to the obstacles faced by those coming into our country and produced more compassion and respect for the courage that comes along with leaving your own country and everything you've ever known to come across the world and try to make it in a brand new place where you are not taken all that seriously and are - in many instances - looked down upon or alienated from.
Nor does Broderick sugar-coat addiction; he does not wrap it up in a neat bow in the end like other authors have had a tendency to do. His story is raw and honest in it's relapses, false starts and cautious ending. But he does manage to captivate the reader from the first page and have you rooting for him every step of the way. I lost many hours of sleep trying to finish this and read the entire thing in a day- that's how good it was. I highly recommend it to anyone, and I am now going to excerpt his work in what I believe to be a example of his writing prowess.
"I have lost my internal editor. The original editor, the innate editor, the editor of myself, the editor of my sanity. He has taken a vacation or his simply stepped aside as my life has become a stream-of-consciousness mess. My vision of the world and of myself has disintegrated to the degree that what I am telling myself can only be considered the truth for that very second, for the instant in which the words are spoken. But at least I'm doing that, Right? I am telling the truth for that very second. I am being, in a word, sincere. I treasure sincerity. I treasure it in myself. I treasure it in others. Isn't it enough that I think it is the truth? Isn''t it? But then it becomes this race to pin the truth on everything from morning to night, to live in the sincerity of the moment. Because without the truth comes confusion; my waking moments become a series of stabbing, pinpointing, trying to nail the truth of myself. Where am i? What have I become? If I could somehow articulate the truthfulness of this very instant, then i would be alive and truthful in it. I would have pinpointed my own existence. I would have located myself in all of this confusion. And the only way forward is to continue in a long line of these moments, where my only sanity lies in the perfection of the truthful, sincere moment. Anything else is just confusion, headaches, anxiety and madness. So then it isn't the truth that will set me free; it is the feeling that truth has been achieved, if only for this fleeting second. And even if it isn't really truth, it is still something. Isn't it"