Category: Memoir

A review of Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith

Not many writers could pull off such a diffuse structure but Smith does it beautifully, using her poetic vernacular and pulling the reader in so tightly, we begin to think and perceive in Smith’s fragmentary, hallucinogenic way. The result is strangely exhilarating.

A review of The World Was Whole by Fiona Wright

There is so much about the human condition that is illuminated here in these beautifully written pieces.  Wright takes the painful, the personal and the often unbearable frailty of life, and expands it so that the work becomes a celebration of being alive, of human resilience and of the beauty of the everyday.

A review of All The Answers by Michael Kupperman

As dementia begins to rob an already private and absentminded man of his memories, Michael becomes set on reconstructing his father’s childhood from recordings, news articles, and his father’s own accounts, in a journey to understand what had crafted his father into the man he is, and how that has formed Michael himself.

A review of The Museum of Words by Georgia Blain

The Museum of Words is a story about language and how it’s able to move between and beyond the constriction of time. At one point, Blain talks about the light coming in – a dawning awareness of the privilege of life.  In this The Museum of Words is a universal story which encompasses all of our frailty and impending demise and encourages all of us to be grateful for the little time we have.

Common Denominators: A review of If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on my Face by Alan Alda

The title to his newest and third book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? and its subtitle, “My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating” reflects an intellectual sensibility conveyed clearly and directly. It underscores the very points he is trying to make in this book. Alda has a gift for speaking about lofty ideas in layman’s terms, and his fervor for his subject matter shines through. This passion is at the heart of what engages us.

A review of How To Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell

Some readers may claim that the memoir is about a privileged girl getting high all the time. But her brutal honesty and writing style about her not-so-glamorous experiences – going to rehab, struggling with bulimia, her reliance on stimulants – shows that there’s merit to this memoir. She’s not a bad writer, she’s just creative in expressing herself and conveying it to me. It doesn’t matter to me that she’s not following conventional grammar and syntax – she’s found a medium that works for her.

A review of Dear Reflection: I Never Meant to be a Rebel (A Memoir) by Jessica Bell

Bell’s first (and possibly not last) memoir is a well-written, fast paced, and engaging read that chronicles Bell’s extensive struggles with depression, with being the child of two semi-famous gothic musicians, years of coping with her mother’s drug addiction, and the ongoing battle to maintain self-esteem against an inverse of Snow White’s evil queen’s mirror on the wall – the “reflection” of the title.

A review of Time Was by Howard Waldman

Time Was is not your usual birth to death autobiography. Waldman’s haphazard style is unique and somehow manages to be both lighthearted and dark at the same time, but these vignettes have an otherworldly quality about them. The subtitle is appropriate as the disconnected voice of the narrator is not only out of time and out of place, it is one that invites the reader to that liminal space.