Memoir to be Remembered
The Rare Utah Memoir
is a reviewer, a born and raised Utahan, who learned stuff
from Christopher Kimball Bigelow’s Acid Test
I didn’t know about the landscape and the culture, and
that is a very rare occurrence. I mean, I found errors in
John Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven
(which, I believe, he corrected in a later edition).
Of course, there is a generation of difference
between us, and we are from opposite sides of Salt Lake City’s
Main Street: he is West, I am East (and anyone raised there
knows this could be likened to opposite sides of the track
in some localities). And we both have pioneer backgrounds
(and anyone from Utah knows this means Mormon bred). I was
a half-and-half and so strayed and Bigelow had mighty Mormon
roots and strayed anyway. We are both Californians, too, though
at different times in life.
I’m telling readers this so that you
know I come to this review with biases pro and con. Here’s
1. Acid Test is a rarity in the literary
world. It is a picture of Utah, its people, its religion that
may be difficult to match because it is not researched but
lived. You may find something to love and something to hate;
you may find something you’d like to talk about (or
argue), but you likely will also find plenty you didn’t
Acid Test is not a tour guide, but you’ll find
it truer to places in and about Salt Lake City and its suburbs
than in any reading about this place you have come across.
I mean, Mueller Park Canyon and Bountiful.
Acid Test doesn’t try to bandage over the culture’s
warts. It freely exposes many I had never encountered and
some that had, in fact, been kept a secret from me.
4. Acid Test is not your usual coming-of-age
story. Some might compare the story to Holden’s Catcher
in the Rye, and I thought I was going to revel in Bigelow
s drug-induced wisdom, too. Instead I found what Kirkus Reviews
deemed embracing society mostly the same ones I found for
rejecting organized religion.
Acid Test offers a home-grown sensibility from an
honest and skilled writer. You may love it or hate it, you
may be surprised by its outcome and, honestly, that may be
the part you hate. Its authenticity will keep you reading.
And you certainly will remember it.