Synopses & Reviews
Pogo Stick Jumping. The greatest number of jumps achieved is 105,338 by Michael Barban in 18 hours on September 12, 1978, in Florissant, Missouri. Scott Spencer...of Wilmington, Delaware, covered 6 miles in 6 1¿2 hours in September 1974.
-- Guinness Book of World Records, Giant 1980 Super-Edition
In this wildly imaginative memoir about an oversized midwestern boy's obsession with the Guinness Book of World Records, a tale of growing up different takes on epic proportions. "It was the Guinness books that gave me an escape," proclaims Steven Church in this darkly comic memoir, "a strange and seductive escape into the territory of the imagination." The Guinness Book of Me recalls a perilous youth strewn with the shadows of record holders, past and present, whose cameos add layers of meaning in fabulous and unexpected ways.
Have you ever wondered why someone would grow the world's longest fingernails or eat an eleven-foot tree? Steven Church has. His bizarre speculative investigations have less to do with the truth and more to do with a celebration of freaks, an exploration of memory, and an examination of identity. In fierce, muscled prose, Church explores a childhood lived between a father and younger brother who are each larger than life. Both hilarious and heartbreaking, The Guinness Book of Me will captivate and surprise you. This is more than a memoir; it's an engaging homage to pop culture, a powerful look at life's extremes, and an impressive debut from a promising young writer.
"'My obsession is not with breaking records,' Church clarifies, but with people who set out to break them specifically the ones in the tattered edition of the Guinness Book of World Records Church bought at a book fair when he was a kid. Imaginative meditations on the unseen lives of the man with fingernails so long they curve in on themselves or the overweight twins who worked as motorcycle stuntmen are woven around an account of Church's own life, starting with an accident-prone childhood that left him with a dozen scars down one side of his body, including a 16-stitcher on his cheek that still draws wary looks nearly 20 years later. The theme of alienation emerges as Church considers his reactions to his younger brother's death in a car accident; expressing his rage with a violent, aggressive style of playing basketball eventually gives way to finding an emotional outlet in creative writing. Church examines many powerful memories of his father speeding through a cornfield to gather ears of corn in the bed of a pickup truck, or of the author himself blowing off an important interview to watch a basketball game with a professor's 10-year-old son that mark him as a rigorously observant and emotionally perceptive writer likely to stay on readers' radar. Agent, Doug Stewart at Sterling Lord Literistic. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Church's sublime, existential meditation on what it means to Be Strange is required reading for anyone who has ever felt out of place, which is everyone. Alert the Guinness Book people: This may be the most oddly beguiling book every written." Tom Bissell, author of Chasing the Sea
"The Guinness Book of Me is not a compendium of trivial achievements, but rather a smart, big-hearted compendium of incidents and events illustrating the greatest achievement of all, which is surviving a life that gives you scars both inside and out. A rich, rewarding book." Brendan Halpin, author of Donorboy and It Takes a Worried Man
"Eccentric, ambitious art at its best." Brad Land, author of Goat
"Church has written a remarkable book. It's sweet and touching but also so funny that I sometimes felt like I had a case of kuru, the laughing sickness (the rarest disease in the world)." A. J. Jacobs, author of The Know-It-All
In this wildly imaginative memoir about a Midwestern boy's obsession with "The Guinness Book of World Records," a tale of growing up different takes on epic proportions.
About the Author
Steven Church was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas. He was briefly switched at birth and then subsequently returned to his mother. Steven attended public schools in Lawrence and graduated from the University of Kansas in 1995 with a BA in philosophy.
In 2002, he earned his MFA in Fiction from Colorado State University. His work has been published in several literary magazines; and has been thrice nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
He has worked as a fry cook, Bobcat operator, tour guide (twice), housepainter, maintenance man, conflict mediator, academic advisor and teacher.
He currently serves as the Nonfiction Editor for Many Mountains Moving and as an Advisory Board Member for the Colorado Review. Steven was awarded the 2003 Colorado Council on the Arts Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction and named the Alan Collins Scholar in Nonfiction for the 2003 Bread Loaf Writer's Conference. He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with his wife and son.
Table of Contents
S.T.E.V.E.N. A Personal Index.
Smashing, Bare Hand.
Tongues, Speaking In.
Danger Boys, World's Greatest.
Trenchermen, World's Greatest.
Hero, Home Run.
Scars, Most, on Right Side of Body.
Transportation, Most Dangerous.
Acknowledgments, Most Deserving Of.
Steven Church on PowellsBooks.Blog
A couple of years ago, as I was working on the initial drafts of the manuscript that would eventually become my new book, One With the Tiger: Sublime and Violent Encounters Between Humans and Animals
, I was invited to read at a university, something I’ve done many times. I had no idea at the time, though, that this reading and the audience’s reaction...