While the main focus of this autobiographical memoir is a tender father-son relationship, Peter Reich also provides an uncommon glimpse of enigmatic, controversial Wilhelm Reich at his 200 acre hilltop home in Maine as he strokes the skies with his Cloudbusters and suffers the indignation of seeing his Orgone Energy Accumulators destroyed. Reich’s books -- The Function of the O...
While the main focus of this autobiographical memoir is a tender father-son relationship, Peter Reich also provides an uncommon glimpse of enigmatic, controversial Wilhelm Reich at his 200 acre hilltop home in Maine as he strokes the skies with his Cloudbusters and suffers the indignation of seeing his Orgone Energy Accumulators destroyed. Reich’s books -- The Function of the Orgasm, The Sexual Revolution, and others -- were burned by the U.S. Government in 1956.
Having trained in Vienna with Sigmund Freud, Wilhelm Reich, MD (1897-1957), arrived in the U.S. in 1939, where his books and ideas about human sexuality gained a substantial audience. While summering on the pristine lakes of Rangeley, Maine he discovered what he called Cosmic Orgone Energy. Accumulated in small telephone both-size boxes, this Orgone Energy, he reported, was successful in healing wounds and restoring life energy. Yet another device, the Cloudbuster, appeared to control the weather...and flying saucers?
For the Food and Drug Administration, Reich’s work was an easy target, and soon after his accumulators and books were burned, he was sentenced to two years in prison where he died in 1957, at age 60.
For a pre-adolescent boy protected by his imaginary cavalry those 1950’s were, in retrospect, a grade B sci-fi movie with a sad ending. The book moves in a series of images, like a movie, between past and present, dream and reality. As the images interweave, after layers of defenses, fears, and uncertainties are stripped away, Peter is finally able to see both himself and his father with clear eyes and an open heart.
“i enjoyed reich’s dreams very much” [sic] - John Lennon
“My God, your book is beautiful!” - Ken Kesey
“This autobiographical sketch of a boy’s early years, the genius loci of a remarkable setting, Orgonon, is a fascinating document. Nature offered a wonderland of sensory stimuli, parents allowed freedom and gave devoted care, and other visiting adults supported his physical playfulness with amused appreciation. But as his father’s ally, he became enmeshed in a star wars fantasy too ‘far out’ to be reconciled with reality. Love, loyalty, and the loss of father and his guiding purposes demanded resolution. … But the much-loved land and tensely experienced sensory memories have endured and are described with such authentic simplicity. If more of us could remember childhood with such clarity of recall, adulthood could be both enriched and clarified.” - Joan and Erik Erikson
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A fantastic, poetic, elegy to a difficult childhood. Reich's prose draws you in to the dream-world with him, and he pulls off something quite rare - an autobiography that stands out as fine literature.