So, maybe not exactly literary fiction as it would technically fall under creative non-fiction. However, I personally think creative non-fiction shoul...moreSo, maybe not exactly literary fiction as it would technically fall under creative non-fiction. However, I personally think creative non-fiction should be considered a form of literary fiction considering not everything, or even most things, in a creative non-fiction story have to be strictly “real”. Besides, this is one of my all-time favorite books!
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris takes place in two parts: Part One and Part Deux. In part one Sedaris tells stories of his childhood and family. Part Deux captures his experiences in France first as a visitor to his partner’s property in Normandy and later as an inadvertent transplant from New York to Paris. The wry sarcasm and sardonic sense of humor that permeate Sedaris’ stories make the occasional moments of sweetness and vulnerability unexpected and all the more poignant. From his early years as a child stammering through grade school to his middle years back in school and struggling with a new language, Sedaris manages to capture characters and settings excellently and eloquently. With only a little description and a line or two of dialogue he is able to create a vivid character that jumps off the page. His language is clear and concise, not overly flowery, and that is reflected in the clarity and vibrancy of his characters. For anyone who has struggled with learning a second language the stories of Sedaris’ attempts to learn French will leave you rolling on the floor. I have never before encountered a writing that so aptly portrays how it feels to be stuck in that sort of limbo where you know enough words to speak, but not nearly enough to make sense. For instance, he describes how his French class tries to tell a Muslim student about Easter (en français of course) “He call his self Jesus and then he die one day on two…morsels of …lumber.” “He die one day and then he go above of my head to live with your father.” “He weared of himself the long hair and after he die, the first day he come back here for to say hello to the peoples.” “He nice, the Jesus.” Sedaris’ knack for finding the essence of a character, setting, culture or conversations and disposing with extraneous bits that would hamper the sharpness of his stories makes for makes for entertaining, moving, thought provoking, and, most of all, entertaining reading.
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood is a story of human relationships, how people come to be who they are, and how being that person effects the li...moreDivine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood is a story of human relationships, how people come to be who they are, and how being that person effects the lives of others. The story is told from the point of view of Siddalee Walker, a successful actor/director with a new hit play that, it is hinted, mirrors her experiences growing up in baby-boomer era Louisiana. Her mother, Vivi, has taken offense to the material used to inspire her daughter’s success. Consequently a split has occurred in their relationship and Sidda has put her impending marriage on hold and temporarily relocated to Lake Quinault In search of some space to think. However, her mother’s lifelong friends, the Ya-Yas, have other plans. They descend on Sidda and through a scrapbook of flashbacks help her understand Vivi and the demons she has been fighting throughout her life. Rebecca Wells does an excellent job of setting scene in place and time. I’ve never been to Lake Quinault or Louisiana, but I feel vividly every setting. From the heat of a Louisiana summer to the icy shock of a glacial lake it is impossible not to be pulled into every sensation. Her characters as well are vibrant and complex. Each Ya-Ya is a force unto herself. Every, numerous, child of every Ya-Ya is individual and distinct. By the end of the book you feel you know them all personally; that they are old friends. She switches effortlessly from a childlike voice, to that of a young woman in the ‘40s, to a forty year old contemporary woman. This is a heartbreaking, uplifting story. If you’ve seen the movie... then you have no idea what this story is, what its heart is all about. Wells captures the joy and the pain of growing up, loving, losing, and surviving in such a way that you could swear that these were your own experiences.