Eddy Gilmore's autobiography of liberation
Budgeteer readers who enjoy Eddy Gilmore's monthly column will like his memoir, "The Emancipation of a Buried Man." The book appeals mainly to four types: those who are interested in the issue of hoarding, those who are interested childhood survival/recovery memoirs, those who like hiking, nature and camping and those who are interested in spirituality.
Gilmore's book has two parts. The first, "Lost," is about his childhood and the chaos that he lived. Each chapter is headed by a silhouette of a boy with a dog, though the silhouette is upside down. The second part, "Found" heads each chapter with a silhouette of a hiker rightside up.
"We did not intend to hoard the feces ... " is an attention-grabber and the first line of the book. Some might be turned off, but if you can get through the disgusting parts, it's worth a read.
Gilmore makes it clear that he loves his mother, but she has issues with hoarding. Hoarding isn't just clutter. It's what happens when there is no room for the clutter. Doors can't open all the way and "goat paths" are needed to move through the house. Things mummify and decay. (See Kim Schlichting's column, "Hoarding is not forever.")
When Eddy is a preschooler, his unemployed father accidentally causes a fire while napping with a lit cigarette on the living room couch. His mother serves divorce papers the next day and his father moves out of their home, which is between Racine and Milwaukee. Gilmore's father continues to be a positive figure, though the relationship between the parents remains contentious. Young Eddy feels alone empty in a house full of stuff; he is bullied and he himself hoards animals in his bedroom. He deals with his mom's volatile on-off boyfriend.
His dad is a character, embarrassing Eddy at school concerts by being the only parent to stand up, pantomime leading the band and shout, "Bravo!" His dad has unique living arrangements, including an old mansion filled with other eccentric renters.
Eddy's father attends a charismatic Pentecostal church where people break out speaking in tongues. Eddy attends with him and sometimes rides his bike to the church on other days, searching for meaning in his life.
Throughout the book there is a thread of spirituality which give him strength and comfort. In Chapter 7, "Alone with Nightmares and Creepy Crawlies," he writes that he always had a sense of protection, that God was with him.
Gilmore's dad takes him on camping trips and this is a precursor to his fascination and comfort in the natural world.
Part 2 is a coming-of-age story as he leaves for college at the University of Minnesota Duluth and discovers the North Shore. One summer he works at a lodge. While some of his coworkers drink and party, he spends all his free time exploring the woods. Nature is a healing influence. Through Gilmore's eyes, readers see the beauty of the northern Minnesota.
Eddy gets a job at Grand Portage National Monument and is issued the clothing of an 18th-century voyageur. He decides to wear it on his day off as he canoes up the Boundary Waters. Because of his inexperience he has some problems and needs to stop for the night. He knocks on the door of a cabin asking for permission to camp on their yard. The occupants are a couple on their honeymoon. Imagine their surprise to see him in his garb.
He also gives a quick history lesson of the fur-trapping era along with how the United States and Canada decided on setting their borders. He explores and camps in Gunflint Trail in 30-below weather.
He drops out of college to travel for nine months, with only $200 in his pocket and a 60-pound backpack on his 120-pound frame, and travels to national parks via hitchhiking, Greyhound bus and Amtrak.
I "read" Gilmore's book on Audible.com. At first I felt that Eddy used too many adverbs and adjectives with distracting metaphors and similes. But I got into the book and really enjoyed it. The narration by the author is excellent.
Eddy's book is a story of recovery. He shows you that he had some serious issues to overcome and how communing with nature helped. I enjoyed traveling with him during his journey. He has inspired me to plan trips to the North Shore.
"The Emancipation of a Buried Man" is available at select locally owned retailers and on Amazon.com. Learn more at www.EddyGilmore.com.
Naomi Yaeger is the editor of the Duluth Budgeteer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
WHAT: "Emancipation of a Buried Man" Book launch
WHERE: Amity Coffeehouse, 4429 E. Superior St.
WHEN: 6:30-8:30 p.m., Friday, May 8