Monday, December 22, 2008

Are You Somebody ?

It felt honest and true. A keeper. I want to meet Nuala O'Faolain.

An OK read, felt real in some parts and too dramatic in others. Must be hard to grow up proud and privileged and write a memoir about how tough life is and how depressed you are. I felt afterwards I was being judgmental, because it was a somewhat interesting read and it seemed as if she hadn't gotten any love at all as a child.

I enjoy reading memoirs even though at times I've discovered that they contained outright lies. Editors have told authors to be more self deprecating, more of a loser, or asked them to make the people around them seem crazier by making up stuff--(Ed: What if you had her always eating dog kibble as a snack? That would certainly get the reader's attention! Author: Uh, What?! Okay ... hope she doesn't read the book, though.)

Most memoirs seem to swing back and forth: the author is conceited here, and depressive there. a loser in one chapter and a winner in the next. They can be annoying and inspiring and pitiful ... and that's how life is. When reading I try to give the author the benefit of the doubt.

I read that singer/actress Dolly Parton wrote her autobiography out in long hand in several notebooks. Then she went to a lonely cabin and read them aloud to herself. Then she burned them in the fireplace. The end. She thought about the conceit and self pity, the boasting and the nasty secrets revealed about herself and others and decided it was too much B.S. to put out there.

Some fine memoirs include:

The Orchard by Adele Crockett Robertson

Road From Coorain and
True North by Jill Ker Conway

I also enjoyed Anthony Quinn's memoir, One Man Tango

If you have a good book to recommend, please do.


tut-tut said...

I've got to say, Stephen King's book on writing, which you recommended, is good. A memoir AND so much else.

Avid Reader said...

I never would have bought it, except I was in the middle of nowhere (Honesdale PA) and in a Kmart. The book selection was small and so incredibly poor.
But I was Jonesing for a new book, and wasn't leaving the store without one ! ( even if it was a Little Golden book !) I saw the Stephen King and bought it -not expecting much. It's great though.

Funny how you can sometimes recall the situation around the acquisition of a book. Later I got the expanded audio version (maybe as a gift? or in a bargain bin? here my memory falters) But it was fabulous to hear his voice. He's great.

have you ever read his little book "The Girl who loved Tom Gordon? " I'm pretty sure that's the title.

Avid Reader said...

In error I forgot to list

Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway. I listed the sequel instead. (True North) I enjoyed both but Coorain is the one to read first. I'm very embarrassed --last month I gave True North to someone as a gift when I meant to give them The Road from Coorain. Oops.

My Classic Fiction Book List -Partial List

  • Austen, Jane: (Complete Works)
  • Balzac: Cousin Bette/ Eugenie Grandet / Cousin Pons
  • Best Russian Short Stories
  • Boyle, TC: Short Works
  • Brennan, Maeve : Short Works, 1 Novella
  • Bronte, Emily, Ann, Jane (Complete Works)
  • Brookner, Anita ( Complete Works)
  • Cather, Willa (Complete Works)
  • Chekov: Short Works
  • David Copperfield (Dickens)
  • Dickens:A Tale of Two Cities
  • Dickens:Great Expectations
  • Dickens:Nicholas Nickelby
  • Dickens:Our Mutual Friend
  • Dickens:The Old Curiosity Shop
  • Doyle, Roddy (some novels, memoir)
  • Drabble, Margaret (4 Novels)
  • Drieser, Theodore (Complete Works)
  • Fitzgerald, F.Scott (Most Novels & short works)
  • Hardy, Thomas (Complete Works)
  • Hemingway, Short stories
  • Hemingway: The Old Man in the Sea
  • Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises
  • Hugo: Les Miserables/Hunchback Of ND
  • James, Henry: Daisy Miller
  • James, Henry: In The Cage
  • James, Henry: Portrait of a Lady
  • James, Henry: The Golden Bowl
  • James, Henry: What Maisy Knew
  • James, Henry: Wings of a Dove
  • James, Henry:The Ambassadors
  • James, Henry; The Bostonians
  • Kerouac: Dharma Bums
  • Kerouac: On The Road
  • Kerouac: The Subterraneans
  • Kerouac: Tristessa
  • Lardner,Ring:Short Works
  • Larsen: Quicksand
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Arrowsmith
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Free Air
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Main Street
  • Lewis, Sinclair: The Job
  • MacGill, Patrick (Complete works)
  • Mackin, Walter (novels)
  • Maupassant: Short Works, novels
  • McGahern, John (novels of)
  • McNulty, John (Short Works)
  • Norris, Frank: McTeague
  • O'Brien, Edna (3 Novels)
  • O'Donnell, Paeder : Novels of
  • O. Henry
  • Potok, Chaim (4 novels/1 non fiction)
  • Salinger, JD : Nine Stories
  • Salinger: Franny & Zooey
  • Salinger: Raise High the Roofbeams
  • Salinger: The Catcher in the Rye
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Dodsworth
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Elmer Gantry
  • Sinclair, Upton: King Coal
  • Sinclair, Upton: The Jungle
  • Steinbeck, John: Sweet Thursday
  • Steinbeck: Winter of our Discontent
  • Steinbeck: Cannery Row
  • Steinbeck: East of Eden
  • Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath
  • Theroux, Paul (3 Novels )
  • Toibin, Colm: (Novels of)
  • Tolstoy: Anna Karenina
  • Tolstoy: Short Works
  • Turgenev (2 novels)
  • Twain: T Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi
  • Vonnegut: Early Works (1950s-60s)
  • Wharton, Edith: Novels of/Short Stories
  • Women & Fiction (Edit. Cahill)
  • Zola, Emile ( 10 novels)