I read Nobody Would Listen all
afternoon and finished it the same evening. I don’t think I’ve ever read
anything like it. A remarkable story.
‘Reflecting on my
childhood is a heart-wrenching experience,’ writes Merrill.
My first thoughts were
that R A Merrill might be Shakespeare in disguise, sitting in an old English
pub watching fights, listening to family stories, reflecting on tragedies,
dozing in its smoke and intoxication, because it is very hard to read this
autobiography without reflecting on the heights and depths of humanity. Having
read it, I wanted to ask probing questions that might normally remain on my
shelf with the cosier books: Why are we here? What does one life mean more than
I am a special education
teacher and I know that, for some children, problems commence not just from
birth but in the womb. The anxiety, anger, self-harm, suicide attempts,
alcoholism, abuse and depersonalization that followed Merrill’s conception and
chased him through life were placed into categories by teachers, medical
professionals and law enforcers, and treated with dubious success. In the end,
it is Merrill himself who brings his story to a conclusion of peace and reflection.
The book is well paced and
easy to read. Much like poetry, scene follows scene with a steady rhythm, and
the emotional imagery makes sense to the reader. At the height of each tense
passage, when we feel it is painful to read more, Merrill stops and continues
either with a lighter theme or with less poignant emotions. Thus the reader is
drawn into his story. The narrative arc is also clearly constructed. It lays
out clues, it rises, reaches its peak, then resolves.
Merrill senses naturally
when the reader has had enough of one part of his story and needs to move on in
order to enjoy the whole book. He shows a great deal of accurate emotional
timing, when is enough for his readers and when is too much. This is a gift.
The reader is also engaged by the elements of hope interspersed within each
chapter, as if one is following a rainbow and wishes to travel on to the end.
It seems that whenever life becomes unbearable yet its beauty is still there,
hidden perhaps for a time, but warm, loving and compelling. Waiting to leap out
In : Book Reviews