In a memoir told from his own childhood perspective, Eric Poole explores his family life, the relationship between his parents and his own “coming of age” with humor and charm. Where’s My Wand?: One Boy’s Magical Triumph Over Alienation and Shag Carpet is the result, and with its recent release in paperback, it’s being compared to two of my own favorite memoirist/essayists: Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris.
Here’s the part of the review that’s going to sound negative but truly isn’t- just hear me out. I’m of the opinion that the comparisons to both these well-known writers actually serve as a disadvantage to Eric Poole. His memoir/collection of essays started out slowly for me, and having read the comparison, the bar was set so high that I was expecting a type of darker wit (a la Burroughs) or self-deprecating humor (a la Sedaris) that didn’t exactly describe what was being presented by Poole.
Instead, the book’s momentum gradually built, and Poole’s own voice is quite distinctive. Funny, yes, but still quite different, in my opinion, than Burroughs and Sedaris. What begins on a superficial level soon grows to a deeper-than-expected series of observations of his family members and their relationships, and the depth coincides with his progression in age as the memoir continues. Poole deserves his own accolades separate from these other male humor writers!
I particularly loved how the separate chapters, that span across his childhood from his pre-pubescent age through high school, all have pieces woven together, even if it’s not apparent at first glance. His childhood fascination with Endora from Bewitched could just be a pop culture pleasure for a young boy who enjoys the flashy costumes and sassiness of a television character, but as he grows older this fascination soon intersects with his adolescent questioning of the tenets of his Baptist faith. The “magical thinking” aspect of child development is portrayed here with authenticity, and where it meets Poole’s exploration of religion is tender and honest.
Yes, I could give the typical “I laughed, I cried” assessment, and it would be truly genuine. But even more than that, I was swept back to moments in my own childhood. Though my own experiences were quite different than Poole’s, the memories of his childhood days are presented in a way that I predict many folks will find endearing.
If you’re a fan of Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris for their humorous memoirs and essays, then I think you’ll enjoy Eric Poole’s Where’s My Wand?: One Boy’s Magical Triumph Over Alienation and Shag Carpet. Just be prepared for a new voice on the memoir scene.
Funny memoirs are among Dawn’s favorite reads, and she has the geeky bibliophile fantasy of someday hanging out with her favorite authors. If that ever were to happen, the story would be told (with much jubilation) on her blog, my thoughts exactly.