I was interested in this story, having read and loved "Wild" and thought this would be a comparable story. I really enjoy memoirs - particularly storiI was interested in this story, having read and loved "Wild" and thought this would be a comparable story. I really enjoy memoirs - particularly stories told by women who have really lived life to the hilt. Having written a memoir myself, I know the challenges of going back in time and confronting our memories. But I'm not a memoir writer. I'm a fiction writer, who wrote one memoir about a very specific time in my life - a time that was worth noting. Someday I have another non-fiction story I'd like to tell about my family but that will be some time in the future. Primarily, I write fiction. I understand that in the past 20 years there's been this whole generation of writers bred to write non-fiction, memoirs specifically. Mary Karr, Augusten Burroughs, etc. I feel like "Girl in the Woods" came out of that school of thought. And don't get me wrong - we all have a story and we should absolutely be encouraged to tell that story.
Aspen Matis (not her real name) has told a story here about surviving a campus rape and leaving college to undertake an extreme hike of the Pacific Crest Trail - the same trail that Cheryl Strayed wrote so compellingly in her memoir "Wild". But here's the difference:
I think Matis constructed the story in her imagination first, and then underwent the hiking part of her journey so she could write about it. I never doubted that any of the things that she was writing about were true - and at times she writes quite strikingly about her journey. Her descriptions of the flora and fauna of the Trail were particularly moving and picturesque. But I felt like I wasn't reading through a reliving of a past experience and that's kind of a big deal in the world of memoir-writing. Also, her having a credit card and cellphone really took the oomph out of any feeling of adventure during her hike.
You really can't know that you're turning a present situation into a future memoir. It kills the LIVING out of that experience. There's a self-knowing, a calculated feel to this book as a result. It didn't feel like the author had an authentic experience and then, some time later, reflecting back upon that experienced decided she should write about it and share it with the world.
There's also a love story here and yet, there's a tantalizing hint at the end that perhaps things didn't go as well as we have been left to believe. Why was that not shared?
My guess - she's writing another memoir. How to fall in love on the PCT, rush to get married and get divorced shortly thereafter. That story, too, will feel contrived and premeditated.
We can't get so caught up in the fad of memoir-writing that we forget to really, truly, fully live those adventures that will be memoir-worthy. Matis has the chops to write - there's no doubt about that - and much of this story was certainly interesting. I hope that she'll expand her literary horizons as she gains more experience, experience that she throws herself into without thinking how it's going to read later....more
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
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
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.
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
My top 10 list of books consists of fiction - and this. I was in my 20's and came across this book at a garage sale. The title looks academic but therMy top 10 list of books consists of fiction - and this. I was in my 20's and came across this book at a garage sale. The title looks academic but there's nothing cold or dispassionate or removed about it. The author (small spoiler) died not long after he finished this and you can feel the race against time he must have experienced, as you read it.
This story-of-a-disease is really about people. Health care practitioners, politicians, bureaucrats, epidemiologists, one famous Hollywood actor and a close-knit group of guys from Fire Island who watched friend after friend after friend succomb to AIDS and then went on to found the Gay Men's Health Crisis. Every single voice is woven with the others into the story.
I've hated Ronald Reagan as long as I could remember. First, because I was punk, and then, as an adult, the Gipper would give me so many, many reasons to loathe him. But there are two chief reasons that remain at the forefront: his tenure as Governor of California led to significant cuts in the mental health care system which in turn led to the not only the high volume of violent crimes later committed by those who should have been hospitalized for schizophrenia, etc but also the vast influx of Vietnam Veterans onto American streets, essentially creating the homeless nation that still exists today. And then, there is AIDS.
Here we are, in October of 2014, watching the Ebola crisis finally hitting the U.S. Where it goes, nobody knows, but we are already seeing a botched effort to contain the disease.
As of today, there are 36 million people living with HIV/AIDS and 36 million people who have died of the disease over the past 55 years (including those who perished up to 22 years before the disease was identified). Will Ebola be the next AIDS? Interestingly enough, the main epidemiologist working at the Centers for Disease Control at the onset of AIDS had been in the field during the 1974 discovery of the Ebola virus.
I watch the panic unfolding on the news, on social media and I think about this book. I read it nearly 20 years after the first American contracted HIV and yet, my heart was pounding as I read this book. There are lessons to be learned.
Middlebrook is simply a first-rate biographer. She manages to piece together all the ragged threads of Anne Sexton's life and work: the possible sexuaMiddlebrook is simply a first-rate biographer. She manages to piece together all the ragged threads of Anne Sexton's life and work: the possible sexual abuse as a child, the postpartum depression that led to her first hospitalization, the affairs, the alcoholism, the immense talent and the galloping madness that would ultimately take the poet's life in 1974. There is so much background information here: Anne's surviving family, her doctors and her fellow poet-friends all provide much needed and valuable background. But key to fleshing out Anne are the recordings she and her doctors agreed to make, as Anne would "fugue" out after most psychiatrict sessions. These recordins allowed her to listen back and make notes and understand her experiences, but they also allow us to understand this pivotal and profoundly damaged woman and the poetry she created....more