Category: Memoir

A review of Bad Behaviour by Rebecca Starford

The writing is beautiful throughout, without ever over-shadowing the plot or narrative flow, which moves forward quickly. Starford remains non-judgmental, even towards those who caused her the greatest pain, including the many adults who clearly failed in their duty of care.

A review of The Metaphysics of Ping Pong by Guido Mina di Sospiro

The humility to which he begins his story is surprising given this title, starting with a simple, “my full-blown obsession with ping-pong began four years ago with the semi-epic road trip.” From the there the story follows a surprisingly human pattern: Beaten by son (at ping-pong), age begins to show (as blood pressure), attempts to reclaim youthfulness (or, at least, not die).

A review of M Train by Patti Smith

Smith would have us believe that is a book about nothing. She opens it with a phrase from a dream that haunts her: “It’s not so easy writing about nothing.” Those of us who recognise her intense grief, and the determination to capture these experiences in poetic prose, will disagree that this is a book about nothing. Perhaps it’s a book where “nothing” happens: it becomes something.

A review of Iran, My Grandfather by Ali Alizadeh

It’s the story of many things at once: a country torn apart by power factions and manipulation, a story of a man and what happened to his patriotism over time, a story about genetic and cultural inheritance, a story about migration, and above all, what it means to lose a home—something as relevant today as it was during the time of Alizadeh’s migration.

A review of Small Acts of Disappearance by Fiona Wright

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.

A review of And there was Light by Jacques Lusseyran

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.

A review of Waiting for the Apocalypse by Veronica Chater

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.