This is really a memoir masquerading as a novel. It's good, even so, insightful and well-written. As someone who's lived in Mexico City, I was particuThis is really a memoir masquerading as a novel. It's good, even so, insightful and well-written. As someone who's lived in Mexico City, I was particularly interested in her life and perspective there--of course, it's the particular perspective of a young person of the privileged class, but Nettel seems a reliable guide to her corner of that world. "In Mexico, social classes rival the caste system in India" (154), she writes. She also went to school in Aix-en-Provence while her mother was finishing her degree there....more
from 3/21/16 Interview about sense of place: "For me, place is everything. The atmosphere and spirit of place. I think I spend more time thinking aboufrom 3/21/16 Interview about sense of place: "For me, place is everything. The atmosphere and spirit of place. I think I spend more time thinking about that than anything. The subtle intuition of nature is something that all people possess and are alive to, but it's lost in urban environments and, therefore, in urban novels. One of the reasons I like living in Bangkok is that, although it's a megacity, it's very saturated with nature—the vast and brooding skies, the sudden storms and rains, the vegetation and even the animals that abound. In the novel, this raises for me philosophical questions about how human beings exist via their consciousness. What does that consciousness consist of, if not what D.H. Lawrence called the "spirit of place"? How does that determine their behavior?" http://www.interviewmagazine.com/cult......more
Poignant, funny, at times heart-breaking. The drawings, about one to a page, are perfect. I'm a huge fan of BEK (the New Yorker cartoonist), and his mPoignant, funny, at times heart-breaking. The drawings, about one to a page, are perfect. I'm a huge fan of BEK (the New Yorker cartoonist), and his memoir did not disappoint. It brought to mind Joe Brainard's I Remember, as different as they are, I suppose beacuse of the era they evoke, a time left behind with all of relics, objects, ways of behaving--from heavy black dial phones to tin crates for milk bottles, to expressions like "dumb bunny."
Emotions were confusing things for me and still are. "I'm not angry!" my father would shout, when you asked him if he was angry. "I'm not upset!" my mother would say in an upset way when you asked her if she was upset. "I'm upset," I would tell my father, who would say firmly, "You're not upset." I think I loved the clarity of emotions on television. Everyone was what they were. I loved how direct Rick and Lucy were, even when they were not being direct with each other." (156).
This could have been my home BEK is describing. Only that we weren't allowed to watch "I Love Lucy."
I loved the section in Ireland, her childhood right up to her marriage and when she leaves her husband and finally gains custody of her two boys (theI loved the section in Ireland, her childhood right up to her marriage and when she leaves her husband and finally gains custody of her two boys (the first half of the book). Then the memoir loses some of its richness...gets caught up in social circles, brief stories. There are again moments of beauty and richness but...never in the same way. This is a memoir by a very private person, so...that shows....more
The sort of story that once started, I have to finish in nearly one sitting. A fascinating account of a woman whose childhood was spent in part amongThe sort of story that once started, I have to finish in nearly one sitting. A fascinating account of a woman whose childhood was spent in part among monkeys in the Colombian jungle (as a five-year-old, she was kidnapped, then abandoned in the jungle). Later, surrendering herself to a stranger, she is sold to become a slave-worker in a brothel but her wits, along with a kindly neighbor's warning, keep her from actually becoming a prostitute. Street life and more follow but Marina's wits, well-honed in the art of survival, as well her need for genuine human connection, keep her safe for the most part and alive.
I am fascinated by wild child stories: what makes us human? What makes us 'civilized'? What are we without the human family? Marina's account of her time among monkeys adds to my appreciation of animal intelligence. More than once she is saved by a member of the clan: once, terribly ill from something she ate, she is brought to water by an elder, made to drink and hence, vomit.
Some of the other goodreads reviews doubt the veracity of the account. I do not, or at least no more than I doubt other memoirs to be 100% "true." Intrinsic in the act of writing about one's life is embellishment, and the line between memory and imagination is not always clearly drawn in our mind. But those who doubt, it seems to me, fail to consider both the incredible cruelty humans beings can have for others, the mercenary ends we engage in, the extent of human trafficking, and the capacity that the animal world, in particular primates, have for connection, empathy, and awareness.
There is one aspect that I'm not sure I believe and that is the actual length of time Marina lived with the Capuchin monkeys. Looking back with her daughter, she calculates time in terms of how much her daughter's hair grew in childhood with memories of how much her own had and comes up with x number of years. But who's to say whether her own hair would have grown at the same rate, especially given her limited diet, and more to the point, how can time spent alone as a child be calculated? I remember summers feeling like years... Seasons in the jungle are not so noticeable, so not a reliable marker of time passing. I question whether she really spent the 3 or 4 years she calculates. I don't doubt, however, that the author did live with monkeys, followed their ways and learned much that was important: what to eat, where to sleep, for example, along with playfulness and affection....more
This charming memoir is mistitled and really should be called something like: Growing Up with Bing (Daphne Du Maurier). The focus is not so much on heThis charming memoir is mistitled and really should be called something like: Growing Up with Bing (Daphne Du Maurier). The focus is not so much on her mother but on the world she created: Menabilly, the neglected manor house Du Maurier was so smitten with and was able to rent and rehabilitate for a number of decades. Menabilly served as inspiration for so many of her novels, including most famously, Rebecca, even before she ever took it over as her own. The childhood Flavia evokes is unconventional, full of laughter and imaginative games, despite the obvious favoritism her mother showed for her brother, Kits, and the hours she spent writing in a room with the door closed. Du Maurier's self-discipline as a writer was fierce but her children seem to have loved her so much, had so much fun with her when she did emerge, that they forgave her her many hours of separation (only Kits got to share mornings in her room, and then only when he was quite small). The memoir follows up on Forster's biography of Du Maurier well, offering a clear picture of the children's life in Menabilly: with a dad who was mostly away (in the army) and a mother who was very much present--even if she did sequester herself for hours each day to create her stunning stories....more