Frank McCourt's Memoir focuses on his childhood living in Ireland during the 1930s. His father drinks away the dole money and has Frank and his brothe...moreFrank McCourt's Memoir focuses on his childhood living in Ireland during the 1930s. His father drinks away the dole money and has Frank and his brothers swearing to die for Ireland every night, because of this, the McCourts live in poverty living on borrowed time and money and the goodness of the St. Vincent de Paul. His mother Angela, for which the book is named, despite dire circumstances stays with her husband in spite of his faults. Even though, he must deal with the aftermath of his father's drunken consequences losing siblings to the damp of Ireland and doing nothing short of begging for milk and bread while also being thrifty with the monies they are able to save. Even though Frank McCourt's childhood was filled with trials and tribulation he managed to stand up on his own two feet and write with humor and wit so the reader never felt sorry for him.
I first read Angela's Ashes soon after it came out and was incredibly moved by it and at the time I had never read anything like it. I reread it recently and sadly was not as impressed as I had previously been. I think this is because in the past 10+ years since its publication numerous memoirs have come out i.e. The Glass Castle saturating the market making Frank McCourt's break through novel passe. This time, I felt that his voice was almost detached from the story with a very matter of fact tone and for whatever reason wasn't as captivating. Angela's Ashes was still a fabulous book but just didn't hold the same spark as it had before. (less)
In Devil in the Details Jennifer Traig recollects her childhood living with OCD in this quirky memoir.
Quirky yes, but Devil in the Details was also a...moreIn Devil in the Details Jennifer Traig recollects her childhood living with OCD in this quirky memoir.
Quirky yes, but Devil in the Details was also a little manic (which explains the OCD). I thought the novel was more like a series of short stories or a vignette of her childhood. To me it felt all very disjointed, one moment she was three and the next thirteen, I never felt a smooth flow between events. Jennifer is very much into her Jewish religion so a lot of her obsessions revolve around being the best and truest she can be to her faith, consisting of multiple washings, praying and flinching on sitting on furniture because the last person who's butt was there could have eaten pork. The second portion focused on her fluctuating anorexia and being a regular (for the most part) teen. Devil in the Details had the potential to be a fun memoir on a rarely discussed topic but fell short for me. (less)
While on Safari with her then boyfriend, Corinne Hofmann glimpses a Samburu Warrior, Lketinga and it is love at first sight. She drops everything in h...moreWhile on Safari with her then boyfriend, Corinne Hofmann glimpses a Samburu Warrior, Lketinga and it is love at first sight. She drops everything in her home of Switzerland and spends the next several months stocking him around Kenya. Despite a drastic change in living conditions and neither speaking the same language, using broken English and sign language marry and between various out breaks of malaria have a daughter. After her birth Lketinga, becomes extremely jealous accusing her of sleeping with every man she comes in contact with (which wouldn't be too hard as the tribe has an in and out rule). Eventually, after denying the paternity of their daughter which has a "Maury Show" vibe to it, has enough and flees with her child back to Switzerland.
Starting at page one I could not get into the novel thinking Corinne Hofmann was the biggest fool to drop everything to move to a country for a man she could barely speak to, plus living in a house made of dung. I realize that's just the way it is in Africa and the culture aspect was interesting but I had a difficult time getting over how ridiculous and rash this woman was to enjoy the book.(less)
**spoiler alert** First and foremost, I would like to note that I checked out Waiting to Be Heard from the library. I did not buy or receive a free co...more**spoiler alert** First and foremost, I would like to note that I checked out Waiting to Be Heard from the library. I did not buy or receive a free copy, but I did read the book.
Why the disclaimer? Because anything negative said about Waiting to Be Heard (particularly on Amazon) gets bombarded with accusations and automatically assumes you did not read the book. There is such a thing as the First Amendment which I am invoking here. I still dislike confrontation, hence this explanation.
First, I'd like to state my thoughts of the "Murder in Italy" before I read Waiting to Be Heard.
I followed the media frenzy of the Amanda Knox trial. Yes, Foxy Koxy, but I also read articles written from other sources such as The Huffington Post and news coverage on CNN. Thus, I was not relying on US Magazine.
This case is complex with my brain going every which way. The only thing I am 100% sure of is that Rudy Guede raped and murdered Meredith Kercher, as his DNA was found inside her and also in the toilet. But I still think there are some holes, waiting to be answered.
There were three things that stuck out at me.
First is the blood in the bathroom, how could Knox not have seen the amount of blood covering the bathroom. At one point she commented that she thought it was menstrual blood. Period blood has a distinct smell and color to it that any girl over the age of 13 would recognize. I also thought it was a little weird that it was found in the sink, I've never heard of menstrual blood being found in the sink...
The crime scene has been defined as bungled. Amanda's alleged bloody footprint was cited as evidence and Raffaele's DNA was found on Meredith Kercher's bra clasp. Although, said bra clasp was not collected into evidence until 46 days after the murder. How could this contaminated sample be looked upon as credible evidence, and if so shouldn't the bloody footprint be discredited too? But on the same coin who's to say that the DNA wasn't genuine or if the bra clasp had been collected 46 days earlier would it be more incriminating?
Thirdly, I found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito's behavior to be unsettling. It has been said by both Knox and Sollecito that the kisses and funny faces were a way of comforting each other. Regardless, it was still highly inappropriate. There was also the thing about Amanda doing cartwheels (which she later clarifies as being the splits). Either way it was immature. Family and friends may see her kooky personality, but in a foreign country and in a police station no less, it probably would not be seen this way.
As for the coerced confession pointing the finger at Patrick Lumumba, Amanda actually went to the police office by her own accord after Raffaele was called down, tagging along as she was afraid to be alone. She was interrogated for hours (without recording/proof I might add) and eventually came up with a conclusion the police were satisfied with, placing she and Patrick at the scene of the crime. I do find the coerced confession plausible as several other cases have been "solved" through this tactic, ie West Memphis Three and The New York Five.
I do not think Amanda Knox nor Raffaele Sollecito pulled the trigger, but I still think they know something. In any event, I think they are guilty of being naive to the severity of the situation around them and paid with almost four years of their youth.
Then I watched the Diane Sawyer interview.
I thought the Diane Sawyer interview was a waste of an hour. It did not give any new insight into the case and if anything Amanda Knox came off as cold and distant. Yet it must have made some impact as I still wanted to read her memoir.
And finally, I read Waiting to Be Heard.
I usually go into memoirs knowing they will be a bit biased, who wants to paint themselves in an ugly light? This was prominently seen in Waiting to Be Heard. Knox's memoir felt contrived. I was a guest at a pity party, with a begging host. Amanda Knox asked for sympathy and instead she just irritated me.
When she first arrives in Italy, she and sister are told to get on a bus which will take them directly to Perugia, instead, as she likes to walk decides to hike it in a country she is not familiar with and does not speak the language. She and her sister Deanna get horribly lost and end up hitch-hiking a ride with an Italian guy. Fortunately all turned out well, but I was appalled by this poor decision and I felt showed she was not mature enough to go over to Italy in the first place.
She also speaks freely of her experiences with casual sex and developing herpes, in which she will now be medication for the rest of her life. First off, that is way too much information, but I also got the impression that she wanted us to pull out a box of tissues. Newsflash, I am/will be on anti-epileptic medication my entire life so I'm all dried eye.
Arriving at the villa on the day in question, Amanda proclaims her thoughts on the open door to be:
"In hindsight, it seems that arriving home to find the front door open should have rattled me more. I thought, That's strange. But it was easily explained. The old latch didn't catch unless we used a key. Wind must have blown it open, I thought, and walked inside the house calling out, "Filomena? Laura? Meredith? Hello? Hello? Anybody?" ~ Page 65
At the beginning of this review I mentioned my concerns of the blood in the bathroom, Amanda address this with:
"I wasn't alarmed by two pea-size flecks of blood in the bathroom sink that Meredith and I shared. There was another smear on the faucet. Weird. I'd gotten my ears pierced. Were they bleeding? I scratched the droplets with my fingernail. They were dry. Meredith must have nicked herself. It wasn't until I got out of the shower that I noticed a reddish-brown splotch about the size of an orange on the bathmat. More blood. Could Meredith have gotten her period and dripped? But then, how would it have gotten on the sink." ~ pages 65-66
I am stickler for locking doors whether I am in or out of the house. I associate country houses with In Cold Blood and unlocked doors with Helter Skelter. That being said I would enter an unlocked, open door with caution and an eerily quite house with a dirty bathroom (especially since Amanda and Meredith were considered neat-nicks) would set off a few bells. But that's just me.
Amanda originally went back to the villa on November 2 to take a shower, explaining:
"After that first night, and for seven days, Raffaele and I were a thing. We spent all the time we could together. After breakfast, I'd run home to shower --his was cramped--and change for class. ~ page 55
But just a few paragraphs before...
"When we took a shower together, he washed my hair and then toweled me dry, even cleaning out my ears with a Q-tip. To me, it was intensely tender; it felt as intimate as sex." ~ page 54
So its too cramped for one but not two? That makes no sense...
Then the inevitable happens, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are arrested and ultimately convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher.
I did feel sympathetic towards her when she was first admitted to Capanne Prison, as she was told to strip, given an examination, and had pictures taken while in a state of undress. This must have been horrifically humiliating leaving Amanda completely vulnerable. Her time in prison would be hard for anyone to endure . (sexual advances and being ostracized because of her notoriety).
I found the first half of the book was presented as sloppy and hectic, making it hard to follow. Perhaps this was intentional, as the murder was both those things as well or maybe it's just coincidence. Either way, I found it difficult to comprehend and not because of the supposed miscarriage of justice. Once Amanda came to the realization that just because she believed she was innocent did not mean the courts would see it that way, the tone of the book mellowed and found it easier to digest the facts (or lack there of)
I saw Waiting to Be Heard as a summary or rehash of the case and didn't see any difference or originality in its presentation as predecessor articles. In other words, I didn't see anything invigorating in Knox's memoir and stand by what I said earlier, "I do not think Amanda Knox nor Raffaele Sollecito pulled the trigger but I still think they know something."
I found Waiting to Be Heard to be self-serving, with the writing poor at best. It can only be defined as supermarket trash. Overall, I don't think Waiting to Be Heard was brazen enough to change preconceived notions.
Lastly, with all the media frenzy surrounding Amanda Knox I think the true victim is forgotten, Meredith Kercher.(less)