Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman, 288 pages. Available in hardcover and ebook from Grove Atlantic.
I'm not sure I have any new adjectives to add to the heaps of praise this book has already received. Billed as a novel, fictionalized memoir...whatever, it is a gorgeous testimony and tribute to Frank's love for Aura - a talented young writer who died in a tragic bodysurfing accident. The Latin American lit vibe is definitely present here, the words have such fluidity I had the sensation of floating through the reading.
At first I didn't understand how it wasn't a memoir and was interested to learn more about the choice to call this a novel. After watching Goldman describe that his writings reflect how his grief "felt" not necessarily how he actually responded, it made perfect sense. And though I'm usually a stickler for getting it right on the page, the distinction doesn't matter, it is a beautiful book.
There are some fascinating interviews with author Francisco Goldman on You Tube.
Review copy provided by the publisher as an ebook via NetGalley.
Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love by Matthew Logelin,272 pages. Available in hardcover and ebook from Grand Central Publishing.
Unlike many, I had never heard of Matthew Logelin or his popular blog before reading this memoir. Maybe if I had, I would have known from his blog disclaimer that he is an unapologetic, even snarky, fan of foul language and prepared myself in advance for his writing to be littered with it. There is absolutely no denying that he has experienced the most profound and acute grief - the loss of his wife just 27 hours after giving birth to their daughter. Horrific. And I have no qualms with the occasional curse word (I don't love it, but understand that shucks just doesn't always work), but multiple f* bombs on each page seems gratuitous and too much like a teenager trying to be cool. And with no callous intent, I began referring to this in my head as the hipster widow book as I prepared to write the review - ick. And that is a bummer because I was prepared to like it - what happens when a man's life is thrown into complete upheaval and how he perseveres in spite of it. But it didn't unpack that with much depth either - there was a lot of repetition. Even omitting all the language, it appears to be another example of blogger turned author when really an article in the New Yorker would have sufficed. But you cannot fault him (or anyone else) for seizing the opportunity to publish. (Does anyone ever say no to that?) And I applaud his efforts to help others through the Liz Logelin Foundation. Unfortunately I cannot recommend it - call me a prude, I'll wear the scarlet P - even if it were clean it still wouldn't be well written.
Still curious? I was! Check out the blog: www.mattlogelin.com
Review copy provided as an e-book from the publisher via Net Galley.
A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz, 272 pages. Available in hardcover and ebook from Penguin Press.
Real Men Read Jane Austen was a bumper sticker image (is that for real?)that kept floating in my mind as I read this fun memoir about how Emma inspired a post modern literature 'snob' to turn from his selfish ways to pursue a spirit of generosity and compassion. While there may be a touch of gimmick - man writes about our beloved Jane - for this Austen fan it reminded me of all that is good about losing yourself in her books. It is easy to become jaded in a market saturated with all things Jane (I'm guilty of it myself, see here) and forget what clever and delightful characters are Emma, Elizabeth, Elinor, Anne, and Catherine. Here is how the lessons are divvied up:
- Pay attention to everday things - Emma
- You aren't born perfect - Pride and Prejudice
- Stay awake, don't take things for granted - Northanger Abbey
- Being entertained is not the same as being happy - Mansfield Park
- Be honest with your friends - Persuasion
- Love is about growing up, not staying young - Sense and Sensibility
Sure, one can argue that these lessons can be learned apart from reading Jane Austen. But what better way than through books do we sharpen our thoughts and consider where we stand. Author Deresiewicz is truly a master of all things Jane, expertly weaving in personal anecdotes while expounding on various characters, and including bits of Austen's own history via letters to family and friends. This book was a lovely surprise that kindled my desire to reread Miss Jane starting with Persuasion. And whether you love Jane or just like her a little bit, you will come to appreciate her even more after reading this book.
Thank you to Liz at Penguin Press for the review copy. And bonus points for the clever way you offered up the book, via the What Austen Character are you quiz? For the record, I am Elinor Dashwood (hooray) along with Liz, while author Bill thought he was Elinor but was in fact, Marianne. How about you?
Visit the author here: www.billderesiewicz.com