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By Paul Cade

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Paul Cade's memoir SHADES OF INFLUENCE has warmth, wit, and a message aspiring artists need to hear: Never give up.
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The coming-of-age story of Canadian artist and filmmaker Paul Cade.

In the introduction to his fascinating memoir SHADES OF INFLUENCE, Canadian artist Paul Cade explains his inspiration: “The order to write came during a session with Shawna Ross, a shaman and medium whom I had started seeing as part of my approach to healing my cancer,” with which he was diagnosed in 2008. This order came from his “angels,” who urged several years into that diagnosis to take up his pen and write.

In the hands of a lesser writer, this revelation may have augured a New Age-y, what-the-heck-is-he-talking-about memoir. Paul, however, has a more straightforward style. Born in 1944 in Timmins, Ontario to two people who were not married, he was put up for adoption seven weeks later. His adoptive mother was a French Catholic; her husband was English and a convert to Catholicism. Paul weighed just four pounds when he was born, prompting his mother’s mother to say, “Il ne sera jamais un people”—which Paul translates as, “He will never be people.” (This would have been a great title for the memoir.) Paul’s father was an interior designer, then the manager of a furniture store, and later a real estate agent. He was a shadowy figure in Paul’s early life, but images of him gradually emerged, such as his delight in playing Santa Claus on Christmas (and playfully torturing the children by having two cups of coffee, followed by a cigarette, before gift opening could begin).

Paul was a mediocre, oft-bullied student until his mother enrolled him in a Saturday art class, where his burgeoning creativity conflicted with the rigid approach of the teacher, Sister Mary-Margaret. When she told him that he would “never be an artist,” something clicked: “[her] words could have been the end of my dream of becoming an artist. Instead, her words became the catalyst to a rich and rewarding creative life.” It is a life that Paul, who went on to become a painter, sculptor, and film director, pursued with equal parts grit and good humor—overcoming obstacles with every step.

In his preface, Paul lays out all the reasons he should not have written this book: he failed English in grade school, he reads slowly, he has dyslexia and ADHD. This is a bit like Moses asking God to send Aaron instead of himself to lead the Israelites, as SHADES OF INFLUENCE proves to be wise, witty, and warm. His characters are fleshed-out; his dialogue is pitch-perfect (an aspiring writer says, “Oh my God, you’re Paul Cade” and Paul replies, “Last time I checked, I was”); and his descriptions are written with the eye of a visual artist (“Viola had a face like a dry riverbed”). And the cancer? Managed, thanks to a “plant-based diet, moderate exercise, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and keeping a positive mindset.” Readers looking for encouragement with their own creative aspirations will love Paul Cade’s story.

Paul Cade’s memoir SHADES OF INFLUENCE has warmth, wit, and a message aspiring artists need to hear: Never give up.

~Anthony Aycock for IndieReader

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