An Indelible Event and Detour Through a Global Childhood
Henry M. Silvert
9781098356996, $28.99 Paper, $7.99 ebook
More so than most memoirs, An Indelible Event and Detour Through a Global Childhood represents a vivid account of survival, transformation, and a journey through other cultures. It is highly recommended reading for those who look for travelogues blended with life-altering events.
At age six, author Henry M. Silvert was a creative, gifted child who played violin and bridge and approached life with a "can do" attitude. A life-threatening car accident may have changed his trajectory, but it didn't defeat his attitude; because Silvert grew into a political activist, employing a social inspection that embraced both his South American experiences and childhood and a growing optimism undaunted by the rigors of adversity.
The juxtaposition of personal life interests and experiences with bigger-picture thinking about social issues and personal impact on the world contributes to a story that moves at a fast pace from childhood to adulthood.
From outings to Parque Rivadavia where he was charged with interacting in Spanish, a language he barely knew ("...this was a new country, whose people spoke an unfamiliar type of Spanish, and I didn't know anyone. Besides, I had hardly spoken with anybody but my family since we arrived in the city. However, my father encouraged me to do all the talking.") to going to undergrad school in New York City and moving from Latin America to the U.S., Silvert provides an uplifting journey that traces his footsteps of evolution and experience.
The contrast between these different worlds is one of the most enlightening parts of this memoir: "City life excited me because of the fond memories I had of living in many cosmopolitan cities in Latin America. Yet, I had never lived in New York City, and many of my friends in Hanover and Norwich had told me that the city was very dangerous. I knew that these people rarely if ever visited the city, so I didn't believe them, but their admonitions stuck in the back of my mind. They warned me not to walk outside after four in the afternoon and, never, under any conditions, to take the subway after five. As soon as I arrived in the city my experience completely contradicted these warnings."
Like anyone else, Silvert has worries and concerns about entering the world. What stands out here is his childhood influences and attitudes about approaching these worlds. These make for enlightening moments as he approaches social issues in America and abroad with a background that at times clashes with his educational ambitions and perspectives.
These insights contrast different cultures and attitudes to elevate his memoir above that of individual experience, offering insights on life and social conditions that keep readers thinking about not just his experiences, but global interactions and differing interpretations of political and social worlds alike.
Whether An Indelible Event and Detour Through a Global Childhood is chosen for its memoir foundations or its cultural inspection, it's an engaging read about physical and mental challenges, how worldviews are shaped, and how adversity and dark times can be offset by attitude which moves from a childhood accident to an identity relearned and re-envisioned.
Readers seeking a memoir embracing a global perspective are in for a treat.
D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review