Monday, February 13, 2012

Walking Through Walls Review

Walking ThroughWalls by Philip Smith

(from the book jacket)
After a full day of creating beautiful interiors for the rich and famous, Lew Smith would come home, take off his tie, and get down to his real work as a physic healer who miraculously cured thousands of people.  For his son, Philip, watching his father transform himself, at a moment’s notice, from gracious society decorator into a healer with supernatural powers was a bit like living with Clark Kent and Superman.

Walking Through Walls is Philip Smith’s astonishing memoir of growing up in a household where séances, talking spirits, and exorcisms were daily occurrences, and inexplicable psychic healing resulted in visitors suddenly discarding their crutches and wheelchairs or being cured of fatal diseases.

While there are benefits to having a miracle man in the house, Philip soon discovers the downside of living with a father who psychically knows everything he is doing.  Surrounded by invisible spirits who tend to behave like nagging relatives, Philip looks for ways to escape his mystical home life – including forays into sex, surfing, and even Scientology.

By turns hilarious and profound, Walking Through Walls recounts Philip Smith’s often bizarre but always magical coming of age in a household that felt like a cross between Lourdes and the set of Rosemary’s Baby, and shows how he managed to map out his own identity in the shadow of a father who, truly, loomed larger than life itself.

I like the matter-of-fact tone that Smith uses in writing his story.  He is not trying to defend anything or trying to convince you of anything.  He is not trying to push anything on you.  He is just telling his story.  His story just happens to include physic healers who can heal over the telephone.  Whether you believe it is up to you.  And Smith does have an interesting story.  Growing up with a designer father who invented the bead curtain and also happens to be a physic healer (his mother seemed a bit unusual too) gives him a unique perspective on things.  He ends up leading a double life as he tries to be ‘normal’ at school and then comes home to people queued up to be healed by his father.  Sometimes, though, I do think the story becomes more of a biography of his father than a memoir of his own life and there are a lot of anecdotes about who his father knew and all the things his father did.  Smith also explains terms like ‘akashic records’ and talks about the different ways that his father worked and different techniques that he used.  Some of which was interesting because I know next to nothing about such things but at times he describes things in such detail and at such length (a whole page of yes/no questions he asks to locate a tumor for example) that it becomes tedious and then boring.  Whether you believe in physic healing or dispersing clouds with your mind or not, Smith still tells an interesting story about an unusual life.  His father was, of course, the important influence in his life and we needed to know about him but I was more interested in the parts of the story that focused on Philip himself instead of his father.  The parts that dealt with how he was affected by, and learned to live with and come to terms with his father’s celebrity and unusual vocation that sometimes made his life difficult.

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