One day on vacation last summer, I did something stupid. As the sun was just beginning to rise and while everyone else was sleeping, I sat outside in the cool morning, looked up briefly at Lake Ontario stretching toward the horizon, and began to read Mayhem by Sigrid Rausing. I had pre-ordered the book months earlier, so when it arrived a few days before we left for the cottage, I decided to bring it along. As I read the first sentence, I had a premonition that it might not be vacation reading. The book began like this: “Now that it’s all over I find myself thinking about family history and family memories; the stories that hold a family together, and the acts that can split it apart.” But it was what followed that should have set off an alarm and led me to put the book away until I was back at work, surrounded by the daily grind of emergency room reports and letters from the coroner. Rausing wrote, “I used to think that no act was irreversible; that decisions taken and mistakes made could, on the whole, be put right. Now I know that certain acts in life are irreversible and lead you to landscapes you never dreamt of.”
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