Legends of the Plastic Chairs is our first non-fiction submission and it comes from Patricia Curtis. I was mildly interested by the title when the pdf file first entered my mailbox. What are the legends of the plastic chairs? I decided to start reading.
Legends is a memoir of spiritual journey, written by a mystic, and a story of the ultimate reality of life-the battle between good and evil, light and darkness, in each and every person, and the path that Patricia Curtis walked through that battlefield, leaving her scarred, frightened, but ultimately victorious in the end thanks to a mysterious presence of light that was always at her shoulder, encouraging her when things seemed to be at their worst.
There are some aspects of the story that may seem a bit far fetched if not outright false, especially the Voice, that was at Patricia's side, and I think that the more cynical readers might find the book unbelievable or worse, but I find it meaningful because it is unflinching about the truth of basic human experience-yes, there is evil in the world, and that evil comes from, as the author calls it, a hardness of human heart. A hard heart cannot hear a soft voice-how true that is! But there is also light, and those who chose to walk in light are ultimately victorious. Reading this book, I am also struck by how similar it is to the books written by Saints and other mystics through the ages. All of those people have glimpse some other reality, been in intimate contact with forces and beings of light, and so is the author of this book. What might set off the cynical reader, however, is the often spare portrayal of the people, places and events in the author's life.
The force of darkness in this life experience was the author's father, a man filled with hate and anger toward his daughters, a man would could not see the good in himself or anybody else. He was a man who deals with his despair and emptiness by being abusive toward his three daughters, blaming them for their mother's mental illness, and even abusing one of them sexually.
The narrator manages to free herself of this toxic influence and sets out on her own. But the experiences are, again, painted with a broad brush, and the lack of detail really undermines the story being told. I'd like to know more about her life as she worked in the auto parts store, more about who her friends were, and more about her experiences. More about running a business and so on.
Although I like the underlying story, I have some problems with the execution--one huge problem is the lack of more details; the author tells and summarizes too much instead of really getting into the moments of her life by vividly presenting events in form of scenes. This lack of detail makes the story seem thin and sometimes less than believable. This is too bad because the story is an important one.