Monday, August 30, 2010

Willow In A Storm: A Memoir - James Peter Taylor/Kathleen Murphy Taylor

Willow In A Storm/James Peter Taylor-Kathleen Murphy Taylor/Scarletta Press/2007/pgs320
Memoir/Biography/Prison life/Sexual Identity

At age 30, James Taylor is convict to a life sentence for the murder of a Minnesota banker named Kenneth Lindberg, a family man with a hidden past that tragically ended his life. Taylor grows up with multiple opportunities at his fingertips; a small haven he calls home in suburban Michigan, living in a newly developed wealthy community afforded by his successful father and loving mother, a caring extended family living nearby. He is graced with athletic greatness that continually helps him throughout his life. He spends his summers in Connecticut with the likes of Martha's Vineyard as his playground. However, beneath the surface is a dark secret.

Jim has a vague notion that he is not like other boys. While his cousins play outside, he makes his way to closets in order to wear women's clothing, lying in the dark, in a bra and dress, in awe of how the fabric feels on his skin. His sexual orientation becomes confusing at such a young age only to be magnified by sexual abuse from his father and an older boy in his community who he looked to as a mentor. These experiences not only cause emotional repercussions on his esteem and psychological being, but also start a spiral of needing approval which eventually leads to the cause of his imprisonments. He seems to start moving from one scheme or person to another only to prove to his father that he can make a successful life on his own, failing to prevent hurting those who try to make paths in Jim's life such as his wife and daughter.

Imprisonment forces Taylor to return to his homosexual ways, casting on womanly roles in order to survive life. Even with his feminine manners, he suffers from great injuries some that cause severe and permanent damage such as blindness. However, prison was also where Jim learned about faith and redemption. Learned repentance and forgiveness which the idea of the book seems to stem from as it works as an apology for all those he has wronged. The memoir contains plenty of darkness but there are glimmering rays of light in the end.

Overall thoughts: The memoir captures the absolute bleak nature of prison life, detailing dangerous and psychological warfare prisoners face. He spares no detail of his life, which at times seemed to lag a bit, especially moving from one prison to another. Perhaps, I judge this somewhat unfairly because as I was reading, I kept thinking of all the wasted opportunities, the people he hurt, and the situations he got himself into. Although I do not think imprisonment was his absolute destination, I kept referring back to these facts in my mind. I did feel some compassion for him and noted how well-written his accounts and apologies were manifested. Definitely not a book for light reading

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