I don't like memoirs, but I loved this one. Wild was different. I didn't feel the book was really about Cheryl Strayed, likable as she is. It was abouI don't like memoirs, but I loved this one. Wild was different. I didn't feel the book was really about Cheryl Strayed, likable as she is. It was about her in the world, the restoration of the joy that comes from actually living in spite of suffering, loss, or disconnection. The pain that drove Strayed to the PCT—the death of her mother, her abandonment by her father, the dissipation of her family—isn't exceptional. But suffering is suffering; loss is loss. I loved Strayed's use of reading poetry as a metaphor for experience: poetry doesn't make sense, and you don't need to understand it to see its power and beauty. Her journey on the PCT was, for me, a radical reminder that sometimes, the attempt to think through loss or pain gets you nowhere. Sometimes you need to walk outside until your toenails fall off to pull yourself back from suffering, know its part in life, and move forward.
Anyway. The book is beautifully written, finding the right balance between introspection and Strayed's experience of the PCT and its people. She's funny, sensitive, and honest, willing to admit that she was lucky on the trail and kind of an idiot for taking on the PCT with zero experience or preparation. An enjoyable and insightful read (especially for a new year!).
Wild must have been compared to Eat, Pray, Love a million times. I only read Eat, Pray, Love because it was literally the only English-language book I could find in Italy at the time, and had a strong negative reaction to it. I don't begrudge Elizabeth Gilbert her success and it's so difficult to criticize a memoir without feeling unfair to its author, but I didn't care for Gilbert's voice, the book's premise, or its message: that you can hit "reset" on your life by breaking away and immersing yourself in something completely new, just as long as you have a large book advance, a guaranteed way to support yourself when you resurface, and everybody you meet absolutely loves you! To me, EPL was about finding yourself, while Wild (despite its subtitle) was about getting out of yourself. There's a big difference....more
The three characters in Anagrams arrange and rearrange, shifting and coming together and moving apart, crossing then parting, or moving in parallel wiThe three characters in Anagrams arrange and rearrange, shifting and coming together and moving apart, crossing then parting, or moving in parallel without ever meeting at all. The anagram provides the story's structure, but it's also one of the Big (Heavy) Things at the heart of so much of Lorrie Moore's work: how impossible improbable it is for us to understand each other, to be really together and not alone, to be in the same place at the same time when change and movement are so constant. "Life is sad. Here is someone." Like a buoy in dark water.
Moore, like any good artist (poets, in particular, appropriate because the last Benna, whom we know the best, teaches poetry), knows how to work within her idea. The structure is the point is the structure. That is impressive.
I've gotten over believing that Lorrie Moore's work is sad. Is it any better to see it as just honest? Balanced? There's so much humor in it--you laugh out loud too many times for it to be sad. The humor is dark, true, but it is often silly and joyful. There is potential, even optimism. Like here:
“But I believed in starting over. There was finally, I knew, only rupture and hurt and falling short between all persons, but, Shirley, the best revenge was to turn your life into a small gathering of miracles.
If I could not be anchored and profound, I would try, at least, to be kind.”...more
So charming! If you love food, and in particular if you *feel feelings* about food and its power to connect people, you will love this sweet graphic nSo charming! If you love food, and in particular if you *feel feelings* about food and its power to connect people, you will love this sweet graphic novel. Thanks to Ms. Joy for the spot-on recommendation. ...more