Speedy: Hurled Through Havoc by Dave Letterfly Knoderer
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|Speedy: Hurled Through Havoc by Dave Letterfly Knoderer|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A multi faceted and absorbing memoir by an artist working in a travelling circus. Recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 202||Date: May 2021|
|Publisher: Independently Published|
How to summarise the life of Dave Letterfly Knoderer in a pithy sentence to kick off a review of his memoir? Do you know, I really don't think I can.
Dave is an author and an artist. An inspirational speaker and a professional horseman. And a recovering alcoholic. The son of a Lutheran minister, he's struggled with a controlling father, run away to join the circus (not a metaphor), trained horses, painted caravans, designed and painted theatre sets, and hit rock bottom when the bottle took over.
Material enough for a memoir!
In Speedy, Dave discusses his tumultuous relationships with his parents, especially his controlling father, and his feelings about his learning-disabled brother and his sister's marriage to another controlling man. But this is a backdrop to his eventful life in the travelling circus where he learns to ride and train horses, and introduces us to a huge cast of the circus's larger-than-life characters: Brownie Silverlake, the opinionated owner; Hayes, the photographer and curator of history through images; Smokey Jones, who knew how to crack a whip (literally), and so many more. He talks about his art and the projects he has been involved in. And he also chronicles his descent into and recovery from, alcoholism, and how all these strands of his have come together to form a reflective worldview. It's a fascinating read and a real, tangible, American chronicle.
There's a particularly profound point towards the end of this book - as Dave has the realisation that controlling behaviour is controlling behaviour. You cannot control what other people do and it's wrong to try, even if your motives are good. Help them? Sure. But helping isn't the same thing as controlling. And that once you realise this and stop trying, your life will be better. You're responsible for yourself and nobody else. I found it both truthful and moving.
Dave Letterfly Knoderer has had an interesting life and then some. I loved his stories about the travelling circus and the people he has met who come from this life. I enjoyed his thoughts about art and creativity and the way he has managed to blend his art with his travel throughout his life. But most of all, I appreciated his ability to reflect on the influences, for good or ill, that have propelled him in life, and how woven they have been into his course through it.
Speedy is a one-off memoir; I've never read anything quite like it. Funny at times, profound and meaningful at others, it's a truly satisfying read.
For a fictional look at a travelling community, this time in the UK, you could try Chaplin and Company by Mave Fellowes, which tells the stories of those living on London's canals.
You can read more about Dave Letterfly Knoderer here.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Speedy: Hurled Through Havoc by Dave Letterfly Knoderer at Amazon.com.
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