by Toti O’Brien
181pps, $13 US
Memoir seen through a window, down a hall, through the wall of a small apartment with a view of the inner courtyard. O’Brien’s work is strange in the best way, and we should always invite strangers in, they have the best stories.
Well, I know little of destiny. The whole concept is too imbued of past and future for me to understand. I am barely managing a timid present. I don’t know lots about life, but you need a kind of container, an overall frame, a recipient wherein you can throw miscellanea just as I toss my toys into a wicker crate, at night, promising that I’ll sort them tomorrow.
The Broken Diary isn’t. It is neither a diary nor is it broken. Undeniably, the book’s tone is melancholic, poignant, and replete with losses: broken families, broken hearts, broken promises, broken lives. But simultaneously, it is a gifted poet’s understated yet powerful reminiscences of and ruminations on her life, on the human experience with its singularity and universality, shared precious memory by precious memory with us readers in deeply personal, elegant essays that grab us from the outset. O’Brien’s style is gently conversational, addressing us, asking us questions to keep us up with her, musing on a truth she just shared, asking us to consider her point. She is like a beloved parent, or teacher, or shaman nudging us to think beyond the obvious, beyond strictures, beyond bonds that delimit us, clouding our vision, obscuring self.
—Thelma T. Reyna
National Award-Winning Author
Toti O’Brien’s memoir in pieces reflects a life deeply felt and keenly observed. Her poetic writing is by turns exquisitely beautiful, jarringly disturbing, and always unafraid. She addresses layers of her experience in a brilliant stream-of-consciousness style that I find to be utterly unique. These philosophical, mysterious, and vivid musings lead the reader through adventure, longing, pain, and joy. I highly recommend this remarkable literary achievement.
—Rosemary L’Esprit, Author of UNDERWATER: A Mother’s Search for Her Missing Daughter.