The documentation on the cover of the original Woodstock records included an apology for the quality of the album’s production. The live, outdoor setting at Max Yusgar’s dairy farm fell short of professional studio standards, so Woodstock’s producers cautioned listeners that the album contained flaws much like fine leather that shows the markings of the tanning process.
Similar environmental nicks bedeck One Sided, Patrick Francis Quinn’s self-published non-fictional account of his life as a survivor of a paralyzing stroke. One Sided is a passion-laden work of art colored by the presence of those few well-placed structural flaws. Much like the blemishes in Woodstock, the character marks in One Sided add a measure of authenticity to Quinn’s witty, angry, touching account of the life of one who loses control over the dominant side of his body due to stroke. A misplaced comma, neglected capitol letter, or an errant typo, serve to augment the message of Quinn’s story; life is a challenge in the best of times, and an unjust, uncompromising struggle when health fails.
Quinn ponders the fairness of falling victim to stroke. He considers the irony in the opinion of his doctors that perhaps his zeal for living a clean athletically conditioned lifestyle was the underlying cause of his stroke. He relates the moments of his fall, and in a remarkably brief, concise story, conveys the long, almost unbearable path toward as much recovery as his tortured rehabilitation could muster. He openly discusses his considerations of ending his torment, but confesses that the love for his family, particularly his grandson, motivates him to continue on with his struggles. His choice becomes a blessing that goes beyond his family; in One Sided, he shares his clarity of thought, clever wit, and keen understanding of the magnitude of impact levied on him by a quirky frailty of nature in prose that is a delightfully compelling read.
Disclaimer: I knew Patrick Quinn in our youth. We were high school classmates, although I recall seeing him only once in the 45 years since our graduation. We were casual friends, but I don’t even recall sharing any classes with him. I remember him primarily as an unusually sharp, humorous wit who could bring our entire student body to tear-shedding laughter with stand-up comedy oration. Quinn possessed command of words as a youth. His book tells me that he sharpened his talent as an orator and writer throughout his adult life. One Sided stands as a blessing shared with others, and a promise that Patrick Quinn has more to offer regardless of the stroke that reduced his physical talents but left sharp his keen analytical and creative mind in ways that promise to enrich the lives of others.