I remember liking this book a whole lot more when I first read it, 15 years ago.
There's some good stuff here in this story of a rode-hard singer who rI remember liking this book a whole lot more when I first read it, 15 years ago.
There's some good stuff here in this story of a rode-hard singer who returns to the small Georgia town where she once abandoned 2 young daughters, along with her youngest child, born when she was in California.
The first half of the book deals with Delia, who has just found sobriety and returns to Cayro, Georgia to finally fight for the daughters she had to leave behind.
The second half of the book is more about her youngest child, Cissy, and how she navigates this new family she is a part of as she grows up and becomes a cavedweller.
What I don't like, apparently, are stories about women who are so plum-broken that just when they decide to "go back home", they fall apart completely and just then a gaggle of sassy-mouthed, steely-spined women are perfectly poised to swoop in and help out their sisterwomanfriend. Dorothy Allison writes eloquently in other stories about family, about povery and class and sexuality, but a decade and a half after its release, "Cavedweller" doesn't hold up as much as her other writings....more
I loved "Throwing Muses" and think Kristin Hersh is an amazing talent. But reading this memoir was like trying to decipher her lyrics: haunting, spectI loved "Throwing Muses" and think Kristin Hersh is an amazing talent. But reading this memoir was like trying to decipher her lyrics: haunting, spectral and terribly murky. Sometimes artists are just too far beyond the pale to capture their essence. ...more
Truly one of the best-written biographies I have ever read. I bought this in the mid-1990s, after seeing some of Kahlo's works. I knew only that she wTruly one of the best-written biographies I have ever read. I bought this in the mid-1990s, after seeing some of Kahlo's works. I knew only that she was a surrealist artist who had been married to Diego Rivera at the time I first cracked open the pages. Rivera, I was quite familiar with, having grown up in Detroit and often visited his mural of Industry at the Detroit Institute of the Arts. But I knew little of his life, beyond his art and his avowed Communism, and certainly nothing of the tiny little dynamo that he married. Like creating a painting itself, Herrera reveals the force of nature that was Frida. The childhood growing up as the daughter of a German immigrant in Mexico City. The teen years, filled with love and adventure and gender mischeviousness. The devastating trolley car accident which impaled her body and soul. The courtship of Diego and the years with him, without him, in New York and Detroit, betrayed by him, betraying him, and all the while (in my humble opinion) building a trove of self-portraits that exceed Rivera's own incredible gifts. Frida painted herself, both apallingly honestly and magically self-determining, through each dark and light and broken moment of her life. As her body began to wither, her ferocity and her genius grew brighter. I would recommend this book not only for those who love artists and want to know their journeys, but for all women, for all who want to know what it is like to truly rise above suffering, and to see a life that was both incredibly rich and tragically short....more
So, first I added this book to my list thinking that this would be a fascinating read about a famous case study that had a huge impact upon social behSo, first I added this book to my list thinking that this would be a fascinating read about a famous case study that had a huge impact upon social behaviors, particularly that of young American women.
Then, I began to read the book. It was particularly fascinating how quickly the author posed her summary, without posing a hypothesis first and then documenting her progress.
As I continued to read the story, I kept wondering why the author posed no conclusive proof that Shirley aka Sybil never had MPD, never had disassociated personalities, never suffered from severe childhood abuse that would have caused this infamous splintering off from the self.
Instead, what I read, was a cleverly worded treatise on the failings of Dr. Cornelia Wilbur including how she decided to find a case of MPD, reconnected with a former hysteria patient of hers, imposed the diagnosis of multiple personality disorder upon said patient after an incident in her office when the patient broke a glass and then convinced the patient that she actually had sixteen alternate personalities and that her mother had been an utter monster to her (the patient) as a child, all so that author Debbie Nathan could concur that Dr. Wilbur had a lesbian infatuation with this patient and used her to further her career. Then, she roped in a New York journalist to "collude" with doctor and patient to write an expose of MPD and this woman's life story ("Sybil" by Flora Rheta Schreiber).
Then, not only do I have to read about the personal romantic failings of said author Schreiber (which have nothing to do with her involvement with Dr Wilbur or with Shirley) but of course because she's Jewish I have to read, more than once, how Nathan describes Schreiber as feeling unattractive because of her "beaked nose". Beaked nose?!!
What is most interesting to me is that in support of her theory that the book that had such a profound impact upon young women who feared disassociative behaviors of their own and saw something of themselves in young "Sybil" and longed for a mother figure like Dr. Wilbur, Nathan herself propels stereotypes and injects hysteria and does a grave disservice to women who serve the psychiatric community and women who are patients of said industry.
It is very, very clear that she went into the writing of this book with her own preconceived ideas and a belief system that she never allowed to go through a scientific hypothesis. It is also very clear to me that she had a real story to write, about the behaviors and crimes that clearly "Sybil" began to trigger in our modern society, including the cases of MPD that have been now disproven.
And then, after I had finished the book and put it aside thinking, "Well, I don't really believe the story but she sure seemed to have a bit of an axe to grind..." then I go and read the top review above, written by a first-cousin of the real life Shirley/Sybil who knew her cousin and family quite well and completely supports the diagnosis of MPD and of trauma and of years of desperately-needed psychotherapy and how the author failed to reach out to the one person who is still alive and who knew the subject better than anyone. And what does Debbie Nathan do? She responds back, criticizing the cousin, over and over again.
Fuck. I'm changing my 2-star review to a 1-star. If you're going to write non-fiction, try basing it on facts and maybe you should prove your case before you write your story (and, presumably, receive your own advance). Otherwise, try writing fiction. ...more
I had previously read "Strip City" and first read "I Love a Man..." about 2 years ago. This was my 2nd read. I think I enjoyed it slightly less then 2I had previously read "Strip City" and first read "I Love a Man..." about 2 years ago. This was my 2nd read. I think I enjoyed it slightly less then 2nd time, but it's still a good read.
What happens when a former stripper/punk rock writer marries a military man? The results are not always pretty, especially when you add in post-war PTSD for the guy and clinical depression for the gal.
Lily Burana has a forthright and snappy writing style and I found her candid memoir to be refreshing. There are other military wives out there who are penning books and blogs, but likely none as colorful as Burana. No, she's not your typical Army wife. She isn't arranging potlucks, she isn't always towing the line, but I bet there are a lot more military wives and moms who feel as she does - out in left field - than would admit it.
I understand some of the previous reviewers who felt that the book seemed self-involved - it is. But that isn't a negative. Burana isn't writing a how-to guide for those about to marry into the Military. She's a writer and former memoirist who simply wrote a book about her personal experiences knowing that she fell into a depressive hole and nearly lost her marriage and writes forthrightly about that experience. And she ends the book with writing about the steps she has since taken the repair her marriage, fix her standing in her community and found her unique way of helping other military wives. Kudos to her.
Considering that Ms. Currie had the assistance of another author helping her write her bio, you'd think "Neon Angel" would be better edited, but I'm wConsidering that Ms. Currie had the assistance of another author helping her write her bio, you'd think "Neon Angel" would be better edited, but I'm willing to forgive the errors. This is a wild ride through 1970's Glam rock with the singer of the seminal Los Angeles all-girls, all-rocking Runaways. I love the fact that Cherie not only rattles off what she did, who she did, how it all went down - but that she also gives you a real perspective of how she felt while doing in. Great background, as well, into her dysfunctional family dynamic and the relationship with her twin sister, fraught with rivalry and redemption. She doesn't gloss over her own mistakes and is brutally honest about the years of cocaine addiction that followed her time in the spotlight and the sexual traumas she survived in her young life. Today, Cherie is a mom and a chain-saw artist. Baddddddaaasssssss! A great memoir. Recommend this for anyone who thinks girls rock harder and better than the boys. And anyone that hates Kim Fowley....more
Painful, informative and in-depth story of a group of mail-order brides sent from Japan to San Francisco in the early 20th century. The author's use oPainful, informative and in-depth story of a group of mail-order brides sent from Japan to San Francisco in the early 20th century. The author's use of first-person plural throughout the entire story, for me, meant a lack of connection. There are no characters, no faces, no names and it lost a star for that reason. But the book is clearly so pain-stakingly researched and haunting that I would still give this 3-stars. ...more
A near-perfect book. I've read "Garp" many times and it's one of those stories that shouldn't have made a good film and yet it did because it just tooA near-perfect book. I've read "Garp" many times and it's one of those stories that shouldn't have made a good film and yet it did because it just took the most important parts and made them visual. It's about sex and it's about violence and it's about writing and it's about success and it's about family above all. They say no one gets to choose their family and yet most of us WOULD choose those we happen to be related to and not because we couldn't find anything better. We'd choose them (as Garp would) because they made us, US. You can look at a character like Jenny and initially find her so two-dimensional and yet you cringe when you know what's coming and you cry when she is killed. It's heartbreaking and unbelievably funny smattered with characters that probably don't belong together in a perfect world, but absolutely click in place in a near-perfect novel. The only reason it's less than perfect is that the author is a little self-congratulatory. It's not enough to write a great book he has to stick little "stories" (supposedly written by Garp but clearly written by Irving) that aren't that great and yet, in the novel, are critically lauded. Still one of the best stories I've ever read....more
I first read this English translation of the classic German play about 13-14 years ago. Lulu is an archetype: she's the representative of negative femI first read this English translation of the classic German play about 13-14 years ago. Lulu is an archetype: she's the representative of negative female energy. She uses men, she commits adultery, she is coy and secretive and ultimately she is destroyed because she is seen as such an evil in our society. The unrepentant woman. This was the first time I read the play with a sympathetic eye toward Lulu who knows only the flirtations, infidelities, manipulations, murder and also victimization that she lives and dies by. I always resented that image of the woman who seeks to weaken her enemies by playing the part of the gamine, but this time when reading the play I saw that Lulu really was a child - even when married, even when living the high society life in Paris, even when prostituting herself for her father and husband. Her only crime is that she's self-aware of her limitations. But I no longer view her as an enemy that she has such limits and commits such crimes. She is wholly indicative of the society she lives in not a devil working against the system to emasculate men....more
I was about 21 when I first tackled "The Handmaid's Tale" and not yet ready to identify myself as a feminist. It was also the first Atwood that I readI was about 21 when I first tackled "The Handmaid's Tale" and not yet ready to identify myself as a feminist. It was also the first Atwood that I read. I remember, initially, thinking how dangerously knowing the story was, how close to the reality of what the most conservative minds of America would love for us to become.
Offred, as she is know (meaning "Of Fred" or belonging to someone) is a handmaiden. She is a woman neither young nor old, who was married and had a daughter when everything went to shit. A war occurred, a coup took place and the Christian equivalent of sharia law went into effect. Her marriage was nullified by the state, because her husband had been married before her and left his wife for her. She was let go from her job, as women aren't allowed to work outside the home, and then one day the money in her bank account disappears. It has been deposited in her husband's account, but she can no longer access it on her own. They attempt to flee, with their daughter, but something goes terribly awry and now, some years later, Offred is telling us about her life and her current assignment.
She has been assigned to a Commander, an older man, and his wife who may or may not have been a televangelist (something like a Tammy Faye, minus the spider lashes) who wish to conceive a child through her. But Offred, despite her acceptance of her fate (husband is likely deceased, daughter is...?) is still sharp of mind. She remembers so much - the life she had including growing up the daughter of an ardent feminist, the time at the Rachel & Leah Center where she was molded in the ways of becoming a docile handmaiden - and she looks forward to so much. The stolen nights with the Commander, whose weakness for real human contact belies his professional agenda in this male-dominated society and provides Offred an opportunity to get as close to her former life as possible.
Today, I'm a lot older than 21 and the world is much different than it was in the late '80s when I first read this. I'm reminded that with each great advancement in our world, there is still a fraction that desires a step backward. They never couch it as such. It's "family values" or "traditional values" or such. "Handmaid's Tale" seemed like a biting commentary on our time, twenty-seven years ago, but today the pendulum swings make a louder noise but carry less weight.
It was good to return to this story, but despite how "important" this story seems, today I find other Atwood books (particularly "Cat's Eye") to be of stronger quality and certainly, more significance in my world....more
The first book selected by the Oprah Book Club some years back and one of the best books in that illustrious collection. Strange how the goddess of TVThe first book selected by the Oprah Book Club some years back and one of the best books in that illustrious collection. Strange how the goddess of TV revived the fiction market in one fell swoop. "Read" she commanded. And "read" we all did. First of all: She's Come Undone is just a well-written book about a wickedly funny, slightly bitter woman coming of age in the me generation. Much has been written about the fact that the writer - Wally Lamb - is... A MAN! Yes, I will agree with the general assessment that "gosh, he writes a woman so well" but more than that Dolores is a character that you just love even when she pisses you off and you root for even when she doesn't always deserve to succeed. You will never forget this book....more
I wanted this book to really champion loud, opinionated, awesome and fearsome women (you know, the ones that men call "bitches") and yet, this falls fI wanted this book to really champion loud, opinionated, awesome and fearsome women (you know, the ones that men call "bitches") and yet, this falls flat. Just a rattling off of names and events, some of which seem to have nothing to do with feminism or bitchery. An excel spreadsheet would have sufficed. Her rants come across as heralding a position for herself amongst the bitches but forgive me, I thought she was famous for writing a book about bipolar disorder and prozac? How does that make her a Bitch Goddess?...more