Cultic Studies Review, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2004 (e-version - no page numbers)
My Life in Orange
London: Granta Books, 2004, 301 pages, paperback. [price, ISBN?]. [There’s a Harvest publisher’s version listed on Amazon, $15 list, $14 amazon.com, ISBN 015603106X. I didn’t know whether you wanted all publishers listed, and I didn’t search further for the Granta publisher’s price/ISBN. sh]
Reviewed by: Lois Kendall
My Life in Orange by Tim Guest recently appeared in U.K. bookshops; it also has been serialised on Channel 4 and in broadsheet papers in the United Kingdom. With an admirable honesty, Tim Guest recounts vivid memories of his childhood in the late 1970s and early 1980s growing up in the communes of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, including time he spent in England, Oregan, Pune, and Cologne.
When you begin to read this book, it will be abundantly clear to you why the average citizen would want to hear about Guest’s experiences. Despite the book’s apt title, the author covers the full spectrum of emotions and human experience. This book uses language to paint colourful pictures, clearly and vividly expressing experiences and emotions that are difficult to convey. My Life in Orange captures what for some is the ache of childhood; it is also funny in places. Not afraid to speak of the games and joys of his childhood, Guest also speaks of the acute loneliness he felt living among the Rajneesh group: “Loneliness was like frozen water, like falling into a pond in the dead of winter and turning blue with cold.” (p. 220)
The history of the Rajneesh movement and related events is also incorporated in this book, interspersed with the author’s personal experience. This blending works well; it is informative and allows the reader to realise the context of the author’s life experiences.
The book is deep, yet light and readable, both for those who have had similar life experiences and who, I am sure, will find solace in this book, and for those with no such personal experience, who will find the narrative fascinating. As someone commented on Tim Guest’s website (http://www.timguest.net/orange.htm) regarding this book, “As a memoir of childhood, I’ve never read a better book. You describe such painful emotions with clarity, honesty, and without any kind of self-indulgence or self-pity.”
I would highly recommend this book; if you choose to read it, I hope you get as much from it as I have.