Oh, lovely. Perfect maternity leave read, but appropriate for any time, really. I thoroughly enjoyed another of her books, and was not disappointed inOh, lovely. Perfect maternity leave read, but appropriate for any time, really. I thoroughly enjoyed another of her books, and was not disappointed in this one.
Daily life with a baby (starting described as a puma, and grows into being referred to as a chicken). Trundled around a frozen city in an orange down snowsuit. Interacting with the passive-aggressive neighbor in the elevator: "your baby is so Big!"...more
I've been resisting reading Eat, Pray, Love since it was so widely popular, but this book fit a bit more with my own experience so I gave it a whirl.I've been resisting reading Eat, Pray, Love since it was so widely popular, but this book fit a bit more with my own experience so I gave it a whirl. I enjoyed the audiobook, read by the author. I particularly enjoyed the author's note/introduction at the beginning, which explained Gilbert's before/after identity rift. Before writing Eat, Pray, Love, she apparently wrote primarily for an audience of men--writing in men's magazines, etc. But the acclaim from that book made her publicly visible identity as a writer chained to stereotypes associated with writing for a female audience.
I found the trajectory of her book interested primarily because I went through some similar experiences recently. Although I don't have an older Brazilian lover with a love story blossoming in Bali, I did recently get married and went through the same process as Gilbert of reading and researching the history of the institution in order to make peace with my own identity shift into the role of "married woman."
By the end, I got a bit tired of the extent of the hand-wringing and somewhat interminable introspection, but I enjoyed it overall....more
"It must be said that the process of washing the disparate tribes white, the elevation of the belief in being white, was not achieved throSome quotes:
"It must be said that the process of washing the disparate tribes white, the elevation of the belief in being white, was not achieved through wine tastings and ice cream socials, but rather through the pillaging of life, liberty, labor, and land; through the flaying of backs; the chaining of limbs; the strangling of dissidents; the destruction of families; the rape of mothers; the sale of children; and various other acts meant, first and foremost, to deny you and me the right to secure and govern our own bodies. The new people are not original in this. Perhaps there has been, at some point in history, some great power whose elevation was exempt from the violent exploitation of other human bodies. If there has been, I have yet to discover it. But this banality of violence can never excuse America, because America makes no claim to the banal. America believes itself exceptional, the greatest and noblest nation ever to exist, a lone champion standing between the white city of democracy and the terrorists, despots, barbarians, and other enemies of civilization. One cannot, at once, claim to be superhuman and then plead mortal error. I propose to take our countrymen's claims of American exceptionalism seriously, which is to say I propose subjecting our country to an exceptional moral standard. This is difficult because there exists, all around us, an apparatus urging us to accept American innocence at face value and not to inquire too much." (8)
"Your grandmother taught me to read when I was only four. She also taught me to write, by which I mean not simply organizing a set of sentences into a series of paragraphs, but organizing them as a means of investigation. When I was in trouble at school (which was quite often) she would make me write about it. The writing had to answer a series of questions: Why did I feel the need to talk at the same time as my teacher? Why did I not believe that my teaching was entitled to respect? How would I want someone to behave while I was talking? What would I do the next time I felt the urge to talk to my friends during a lesson? Your grandmother was not teaching me how to behave in class. She was teaching me how to ruthlessly interrogate the subject that elicited the most sympathy and rationalizing--myself. Here was the lesson: I was not an innocent. My impulses were not filled with unfailing virtue. And feeling that I was as human as anyone, this must be true for other humans. If I was not innocent, then they were not innocent. Could this mix of motivation also affect the stories they tell? The cities they built? The country they claimed as given to them by God?" (29-30)
"I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people's interests. The library was open, unending, free." (48)
"Poetry aims for an economy of truth--loose and useless words must be discarded, and I found that these loose and useless words were not separate from loose and useless thoughts. Poetry was not simply the transcription of notions--beautiful writing rarely is...Poetry was the processing of my thoughts until the slag of justification fell away and I was left with the cold steel truths of life." (51)
"It began to strike me that the point of my education was a kind of discomfort, was the process that would not award me my own especial Dream but would break all the dreams, all the comforting myths of Africa, of America, and everywhere, and would leave me only with humanity in all its terribleness." (52)
"I am convinced that the Dreamers, at least the Dreamers of today, would rather live white than life free." (143)...more
Story within a story, with literary criticism woven into the fiction narrative. In a compelling way! What!?!
And translation, and abandonment issues, aStory within a story, with literary criticism woven into the fiction narrative. In a compelling way! What!?!
And translation, and abandonment issues, and poetry!
A tiny taste: "I had already read all the pages Romei had sent me, I'd read them carefully more than once. It was time to "trot" the work, I'd retype the original, leaving five or six spaces between each line, then handwrite a quick 'literal' translation above each line, adding towers of alternative translations above problem words, which is to say most words. I'd use different colored highlighters to note difficult phrases or lines I didn't fully understand. If its rhythm was complex, I might scan the work, or might note its rhyme pattern. On the back, I'd make notes about possible approaches, which elements seemed most important, what the author was getting at; I'd also start a leitwort lexicon, for key words that appeared several times. I'd end up with an indecipherable page, full of color, ornament, and scrawl, which I'd then throw away so I could get down to the real business of translation, trusting that everything I'd noted had sunk into my cells, available when I needed it." (107)...more