Reviewed by Stephen Kuusisto
What would a small book of wonder look like in the dwindling days of civility? And what would wonder be made from? Sonya Huber’s lyrical and affirming book-length essay answers these questions by demonstrating the flow of principled consciousness.
The writer has an autoimmune disability and must martial her strength (something all “Spoonies” know about) even as simultaneously she protests climate devastation, gets arrested, struggles through the brutal judicial machinery of New York City, observes her allies who offer up their voices for survival, and yes, takes care of her students, family, and her own traumatized body. One sees hints of Normal Mailer’s march on the Pentagon, hints of Harriet MacBride, hints also of Zen stalwartness—take the first step and keep going—but ultimately the effect is of a soul among souls and one feels the effort is Thoreau-esque in the best possible ways.
Many writers have sought to highlight a single day. Huber’s book struggles with the literary conceit as it’s also about the soul though she doesn’t to my knowledge employ the word. As Dr. Jung would tell us, the soul is a messy place and given this Supremely Tiny Acts moves swiftly from protest and political struggle to the losses of loved ones or old friends. In this way “supremely” suggests that the author would, if she could, create for us an owner’s manual about how to live and what to do. But she’s too humble and honest for that which is why her book is so satisfying. We follow her from a jail cell to a commuter train; to the DMV where her son gets his first driver’s license; and then we’re called upon, gently to ask ourselves, along with the narrator, what does it mean to be a good adult?
Title: Supremely Tiny Acts: A Memoir of a Day
Author: Sonya Huber
Publisher: Mad Creek Books (an imprint of The Ohio State University Press)
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About the Reviewer
Stephen Kuusisto holds a University Professorship at Syracuse University and is the author of the memoirs Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey; Planet of the Blind (a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year”) and Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening and of the poetry collections Only Bread, Only Light; Letters to Borges; and Old Horse, What is to Be Done? He travels and lectures widely on human rights, disability, literature, and the advantages of guide dogs and human-animal relationships. His website is: www.stephenkuusisto.com.