First Light: A Journey Out of Darkness

Arcade: Skyhorse. Mar. 2023. 240p. ISBN 9781956763317. $26.99. MEMOIR
Matthiessen (1953–2022) grew up in the world of fanciful bohemians, authors, and artists. The son of author Peter Matthiessen, he was surrounded by success and vices, and he pushed himself to come out from under his father’s shadow. He had two other battles to fight as well: his ever-increasing love for alcohol and his quickly waning vision due to retinitis pigmentosa. These struggles, combined with his fight for acceptance within his own social circle, led him down a path of unavoidable tragedies and toward ultimate redemption through his later work as a social worker within the recovery realm. This memoir is filled with tragedy, loss, and lessons, and it crystalizes the difficulties he faced, despite the privilege he was born into. It reads like a confession, filled with emotion and regret but ultimately acceptance of his life’s journey before his untimely death from cancer at the age of 69.
VERDICT Highly evocative, this title will likely make memoir fans feel nearly every emotion.
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