Monday, May 2 2011
When I review a book, I like to dog-ear pages that contain interesting passages or noteworthy statements. By the time I was done with Reality Hunger, my paperback was so puffed up by pages that were doubled in width from dog-earing that it looked like I'd dropped it into a hot bath filled with Calgon and then left it to dry on a radiator.
Wednesday, February 23 2011
Laura Bush largely avoided the public slanderings that Nancy Reagan endured and that, to a lesser extent, Michelle Obama is now enduring, even though George W. Bush himself was perhaps the most excoriated President in recent American history. The reasons have something to do with Laura Bush's literary sensibility.
Monday, December 13 2010
In this telling of his own encounter with blindness, the neurologist and author Oliver Sacks reminds us that there are few human failings worse than taking for granted life and its manifold hidden miracles.
Friday, October 8 2010
It isn't often that a brutal personal account of mass murder, slavery, torture and the obliteration of a sovereign nation causes a reader to meditate on the art of acting, but then, Haing Ngor's was no ordinary life.
Thursday, July 15 2010
Reading narratives of the seemingly intractable Arab-Israeli conflict is like trying to follow the plot of a novel that has had every other page ripped out. Amos Oz’s A Tale of Love and Darkness has fewer missing pages than most.
Monday, June 7 2010
"... I have crawled most of the way through life. I have crawled downward into holes without a bottom, and upward, wedged into crevices where the wind and the birds scream at you until the sound of a falling pebble is enough to make the sick heart lurch."
Wednesday, May 12 2010
The "monstrous steel molochs" of industrialized civilization are fueled by petroleum and not literally by the "fat of the natives", though for the Achuar people, the subject of this classic narrative, that might be a distinction without a difference.
Monday, April 5 2010
Gerald Boyd's memoir illustrates that sometimes, those who preach the loudest about diversity and tolerance are in fact the least capable, when it comes down to it, of tolerating any diversity at all.
Thursday, February 25 2010
As in any existence, there are themes that become fully apparent only in retrospect; in Sampsell’s case, as with most of us, these overwhelming but at first hard-to-discern influences are embodied in family.
Monday, February 1 2010
There's a higher ratio of disposable schlock in the memoir than in other literary genres, but the best memoirs permit access to lives strange, twisted, wasted, brave, and glorious -- lives, in short, other than our own.
Thursday, December 17 2009
According to Julian Barnes, the fear of death is "the most rational thing in the world." But denying the certainty of death also can be a rational act, at least until that time when it is not.
Monday, November 16 2009
The popularity of the “pet memoir” can be traced to a lot of factors, ranging from honest sentiment to rank anthropomorphism. But our pets, and our books about them, reflect spirit of our age, as well.
Friday, October 16 2009
With its narrow streets and dark and hidden infoldings, there’s a distinctly feminine, mysterious, and inexplicably magnetic aspect to Japan that exists in few other places in the world.
Friday, September 11 2009
Slapping the word 'Fiction' on the cover of a book is not a "get out of jail free" card or, more accurately, a license to kill – just because memoirs have to be true, it doesn’t follow that novels should be allowed to be false.
Monday, August 17 2009
Ding dong! Ding dong! Another dysfunctional-family memoir bearing a terrible secret is at the door!
Tuesday, June 23 2009
As a memoirist, Burroughs is highly skilled at the art of aestheticized self-pity.