THE INVENTION OF FIREFLIES explores the magic and the monsters I've encountered in my lifetime. Some magical moments include: Appearing nationally on the cover of a corn flakes box. Realizing I was in love with a lumberjack poet after it was too late to do anything about it. Discovering my calling as a senior caregiver and a professional cuddler. Finding Buddhism at a bus stop. Some monstrous moments include: My mother and brother having cerebral hemorrhages two months apart. Discovering that a roommate's bizarre behavior was driven by crystal meth. Falling down the rabbit hole of mental illness & being unable to climb out for three years. And so I offer you this modern fable of how I flourished some days and how I floundered others. It is my hope that this book may give readers clues as to how to encourage more magic in their lives. And, of course, how to make friends with their monsters.
Plot/Idea: Okita's stirring, humor-filled memoir details moments of joy and beauty ("magic") as well as of darkness and fear ("monstrous") from the author's life.
Prose: Okita's prose is expressive, detailed, and engaging. Frequently lovely descriptions sit comfortably alongside exposition that provide context and situate events in time and place.
Originality: The author anchors his story in particular formative events and milestones: a serial killing that occurs too close for comfort; early romantic encounters; the AIDS epidemic; grappling with mental illness; successes as an author, and more. Though events are not always remarkable, Okita's writing style maintains interest throughout the narrative.
Character/Execution: Rather than create a fully chronological overview of his life from childhood into adulthood, Okita wisely constructs the memoir around significant moments, thus providing a refreshing shape and framework.
Date Submitted: January 19, 2023