A memoir with good chapters is a treat. But a book with reflective stories, poems and essays rolled into one memoir is a feast. Crumbs Cast Upon the Current is a reading feast with different sections told in different literary genres: stories, poems, and essays. The first section starts with a story on the author's physical travel from Exeter, New Hampshire to Lawrenceville, New Jersey, which centers on his ascent to grandfatherhood. It is followed by a metaphoric travel story, about the author's father and his journey from being a gregarious and personable person to being melancholic and antisocial after the death of his son Johnnie, the author's younger brother. The section is then ended with the author's yet another physical travel, now to his hillside retreat on Morgan, Vermont, and the euphoria and psychological boost it brings.
This kind of approach—an allusion to travel—has been carried through the succeeding sections. Similar to the story section, the poem section starts with the author's recollection of his physical wandering, from Vermont to New Hampshire to Maine. It is followed by metaphoric travel: a poem about the author wandering in a dream. Unlike the first section, though, the second section ends with yet another metaphoric travel—a poem on a troglodyte and its travel from womb to tomb. The author then plays with two seemingly different, but intimately interconnected epitomes of travel, the physical and metaphorical.
In the third section, Wooley makes a little twist. He narrates his life within a new framework and yet maintains a similar theme. The third and last section is not just scholarly; the author also has quoted and referenced philosophical materials in their original language, Greek, consistently. The author attempts to marry philosophy and poetry. Coming from this understanding, the scene on Morgan where the author was shouting his battle cry, I am the highest mouse instead of I am at the top of the world, makes much sense. And for those who have studied or are studying Greek and are familiar with the writings of Plato and Aristotle, the third section would be a treat. It is a real food at that, capable of filling and satisfying the book lover's, art enthusiast's, and literati's appetite for sound thesis, depth and substance and word structure.
The story told in the memoir is one of Wooley's growing into an understanding of himself—a self-examined life as he puts it. But beyond that, it is also of his growing into a deeper understanding of life stages and the plight of his family. The identity he discovers after retirement, when he becomes a grandfather, in the wake of his younger brother's death and through his hunting adventures are "all pivotal to the development of his consciousness, which culminated in an inspired writing down and collecting of stories from his life travels."
This book provides valuable insights relevant to gerontology, geriatrics, philosophy, linguistics, memoir writing, family life, and child development. In addition, it includes entries on epigram, gnome, and ennead that may appeal to students of literature, philosophy, and history. Also, this book demonstrates an innovative pattern in memoir and life writing using a three-prong template: stories, poems, and essays that can be a springboard to a new approach to memoir writing.