Category: Memoir

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.

A review of The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C Morais

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.

A review of Just Kids by Patti Smith

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.