These are close and moving readings that provide depth and personal insight into the narrative framework, the themes that pivot around mental illness and hunger, and the characters that become Wright’s partners through her own recovery. It’s not a facile recovery though. The memory of hunger is almost as acute as the hunger itself.
Some books should not be read with other books. Or the other book will not compare favorably. Some books remind the reader of why books are read in the first place – because they open the eyes and heart to new worlds that the reader had never dreamed of. Some books remove the cap from our head, and open the top of our skulls. And There was Light is such a book — at least in the first section. But for some, it might be the second section. It depends.
What’s so endearing about Falling For Me is that David does not try to portray herself as perfect. She’s just like any other single woman out there, putting her best foot forward trying to fall in love—the only difference is, she’s working on falling in love with herself first.
One of the lovely parts of the story is Veronica’s language—she paints a complex picture of her family, using heavy doses of metaphorical language and lots of questioning about how her life unfolds. She is quite trapped in her lifestyle. She writes much later, looking back and many of the incidences described are all about falling away, falling down, or just not making it.
The quiet joy that Margaret takes in rediscovering her sister is inspirational. What we find at the end is not the old Barb, but rather, Barb as she is and has become. How We Got Barb Back is an important book, not just for those looking for answers and understanding about a relative struggling with mental illness, but for everyone.
As with fiction, it’s all about voice: the fairy dust that brings words to life, gives them a heartbeat. Dina has a voice many authors would cheerfully give a limb for, and what’s truly amazing is I don’t think she has any idea she possesses such a gift.
Morais keeps the plot both basic—a young man’s journey to become a top French chef—and elegant, as the book’s three main locations (Mumbai, London, and Paris) add a touch of the exotic. Hassan tells us about himself more through his experiences in the kitchen than anywhere else. He lives, he loves, he mourns the losses of his parents and mentors, but his greatest love is his kitchen.
Above all this book is the story of a journey – both for Bronson, and perhaps more powerfully, his mother, and their transition from disabled victims trying to get by, to super-abled victors changing the system and creating art and meaning in ways that open doors for others.
The book is written simply, with a tender humility that shines the light on Mapplethorpe and other tragic geniuses of that era, tracing their guiding hunger, their successes, and ultimate failures. The book isn’t sad though—it’s transcendent. Smith is the survivor, her story extending well beyond the pages of the book.
Hilburn does have the special gift of getting behind the glitz and glamour of these famous stars and merely starting conversations with the person. He says in several places throughout the book that he was often assigned interviews at the last minute at the artist’s request, and rather than conduct a proper interview with microphones or tape recorders, he and the artist simply had a conversation, Hilburn jotting down notes and important quotes as they talked.