This book is amazing. The story is organized as a progression of ideas (in the guise of an autobiographical novel, but, if you'll notice, the reader kThis book is amazing. The story is organized as a progression of ideas (in the guise of an autobiographical novel, but, if you'll notice, the reader knows every major plot point very early on) intertwining life events and great literature. As the best nonfiction does, the work continuously re-analzyes itself, and Allison acknowleges the deepest and least socially acceptable of her emotions. She guides us with a steady hand through what, for most of us, is completely uncharted territory-- both in the extraordinarily tragic emotional life of her family, and literature that most people will never read (at least not as a complete body of work).
One or two reviewers said that they did not think the drawings added much to the story-- I have to disagree. Watch the precision with which Allison draws the lines of her father's and mother's faces. Honestly, though, the pictoral highlight for me was her analysis of her childhood diary and the way she coded in her self-doubt. The emotional highlight of the book was, as she intended, the climax of her and her father in the car.
But my favorite aspect of the book was, as I mentioned, the way Allison steadily guides us through the parellels of her parents' life with certain writers and their work. She takes us into deeper and deeper places, using the literature as a way of making sense of things-- starting out with Fitzgerald and Gatsby, moving through Henry James, Proust, the trial of Oscar Wilde (a personal favorite, I admit), and finally landing softly down amidst the Odyssey and Ulysses. None if it feels pretentious. Allison uses our common reading history (and there are more accesible references to James and the Giant Peach, Catcher in the Rye, Winnie the Pooh) to filter the world: both to herself and to her lucky audience....more
The quality of your life and the quality of your happines deserve to be high. Take long walks, drink loose tea and beer, sleep late, skip work, meditaThe quality of your life and the quality of your happines deserve to be high. Take long walks, drink loose tea and beer, sleep late, skip work, meditate, and other advice (some less warm and fuzzy) are contained in Hodgkinson's manifesto for loafers. It's refreshing to demonize Edison and Franklin, and to elevate flaneurs, Oscar Wilde, and whoever else loves idling around streetcorners and cafes. It would be difficult to follow the day as prescribed by Hodgkinson-- each chapter explores the cultural history of something better you should be doing with your time, e.g. taking a 3 martini lunch instead of guzzling coffee at your desk-- I wish I could. This book counterbalances workplace anxiety and ambition, and reminds us that we should never, ever feel guilty for relaxing, because that's what makes life good....more