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Windy City Times 2016-06-08
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BOOK REVIEW All the Rage: A Quest by Martin Moran $24.95; Beacon Press; 232 pages
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Terri Schlichenmeyer
2016-06-07

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You've never been so mad in your life.

Boy, you were angry—ready to scream, spit nails and tear the world apart with bare hands. So mad you couldn't see straight, as they say, and you're still seething. As in the new book All the Rage: A Quest, by Martin Moran, would the trespass against you ever be forgivable?

It was unimaginably difficult to make that last call, even though there had been other calls over the years.

Moran had to make sure that someone was monitoring the man who'd molested him decades before. Bob was elderly by now, but Moran knew that Bob wasn't rehabilitated—if such a thing could even happen. He was relieved to know that California authorities had Bob on a registry.

In another memoir, in another time, he'd written about Bob pseudonymously. He didn't want to cause trouble then, for himself or anyone else, but the memory of what happened when he was twelve still, of course, lingered. He'd waited thirty years, after all, to finally call the cops.

And yet, he didn't hate Bob—his stepmother, yes, but not Bob. And he didn't think he was angry about the whole thing; no, what irked him most was when people asked him if he was angry. He had a life to live, a career as a writer and actor; he lectured, traveled, explored, loved his family and his partner. Who had time for anger?

Who had time for forgiveness?

That was something Moran wrestled with. He worked as an interpreter for a man who was seeking asylum in the United States, and the horrors the man endured were nearly unbearable. He seemed to forgive those who hurt him. An old friend who'd been molested was able to forgive, too; in fact, he almost seemed to think that Bob was a nice guy. Could anybody ever think of Hitler or Stalin as a human being worthy of grace? Or was justice needed before we can truly forgive?

If a book, a nonsentient item made from dead trees, could have feelings, All the Rage would throb with aching.

Moran indicates in this memoir that he no longer feels compelled to be coy with his molester's name, so he specifically identifies the catalyst for this journey. That up-front-ness immediately feels squirmy—in part, because everything's suddenly more personal, and in part because Moran already seems oddly blase toward Bob, who nonetheless is a 10-foot-tall, constant presence in this story.

All that happens in the first pages. Because of the unsettling feeling we're left with then, what comes next, and for the rest of the book—losses, bewildering arguments, final words exchanged with a friend, and yes, a blazing realization of hatred—becomes compellingly soul-washing not only for writer, but for reader, too.

Though there's plenty of rawness here—both in feeling and in word—this meditation on justice, compassion, and mercy is something we all need at some point, so find All the Rage. If you miss it, you may never forgive yourself.

Want more? Then look for Fire Shut Up in My Bones, by Charles M. Blow; or Pee-Shy, by Frank Spinelli.


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