Sunday, October 28, 2007

the connection of storytelling

Book report time. But first: A rant. Why are people picking on Jessica Seinfeld? She seems like a perfectly nice person who cares enough about her children to pre-cook and puree vegetables for them every week. Is this really worth fussing over? I'm not going to follow her plan myself. Mostly because I'm too lazy, but also because I kind of sort of agree that it's better in the long run if you just get them used to the idea that they gotta eat 'em and that they do sometimes taste good. But, seriously, the fuss to me is too much. She isn't harming us. No one's making us buy the cookbook, and certainly no one is coming into our living rooms force-feeding our children spinach brownies - and if they were, really, wouldn't we thank them? It's not cool to me, and I feel we need to let her be.

Okay, Felicity loaned me this book because it's smart and because the idea of it is so lovely - a memoir in books. Gotta love that. And I did. So many things to thank this author for. First, that she left me free to never actually read Lolita. Based on her description of it, I'm very grateful for that. On the other hand, she did make me want to pick up some books by Henry James. And she informed me that Sheherezade (of the 1000 tales) was a woman. I had no idea.

Most importantly, she made me care about Iran. Having written a memoir myself, I expected she would make me feel embarrassed about that. That I would feel shallow and terribly distant from the real problems of the world. But that wasn't the case, and I was grateful for that too. Instead, I saw my own problems staring back at me - just dressed in a long black cape and involuntary head scarf. I saw my own tendency to blame my decision-making, my unhappiness, or my loss of identity on something that happened to me rather than on my response to it. And I saw the familiar struggle of being in a situation you want to change, but not knowing how long you can stick it out and fight for the change, while failing. It was beautifully told. And very sad, although not in the way I expected. It is one of those wonderful stories that remind us we are all connected, which as Kate quoted in my comments section once, is why most of us read in the first place - to know we're not alone.

It's kind of my greatest dream that someone - anyone - anywhere in the world would read my own book one day and realize that. Maybe someday . . .


Anonymous said...

Seren when you are published I will be the first one standing in line to A: BUY your book, B: get it autographed at your booksigning, and C: tell everyone I know that MY cousin is the author of this fantastic book and would they like MY autograph because of that?

Felicity said...

Second in line. And for all of the above reasons. Except insert "sister" because I certainly plan to play that card!

serenity said...

I just love my fan club.

Kathy N. said...

I can't beleive I'm third in line! Surely those hours in labor and childbirth earn me the right to cut!


Dennis said...

A few booknotes to follow your report. I read Lolita this summer for its value as a work in the modern canon. It was disturbing, well done but disturbing. Though, surprisingly, I've read things that have bothered me more.

On the middle east note, I'm reading the Kite Runner at present, and it is very well done, gripping writing. There is disturbing content as well, but seldom have I read an account of a guilty person that so well conveyed the feeling directly. I felt bad for things I had done that were remotely similar.

Also, in the vein of repressed women, I read Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. It is autobiography and she has quite a story to tell of her childhood in Somalia and then her eventual escape to the Netherlands. Well worth reading.

SO, all in all two strong recommendations, one on the basis of a completed reading the other not. And just to throw in a good word for Nabokov, he did write some other books that aren't about pederasts.

serenity said...

Thank you so much, Den. I'm both grateful for the recommendations and grateful that you don't scoff at my aversion to Lolita. I knew I would have to read it if I wanted to tackle the literary canon, and that is the only thing that makes me feel guilty for not reading it. Any time you have a recommendation for me, Send it. Felic loaned me a college course book on reading and understanding literature, so I should find important recommendations in there as well. I can't wait!