S.'s Reviews > The Place You Love Is Gone: Progress Hits Home

The Place You Love Is Gone by Melissa Holbrook Pierson
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's review
Nov 19, 2009

did not like it
bookshelves: non-fiction, love-the-cover, buyer-s-remorse, gave-up, read-in-2009, women-writers
Read in November, 2009

This book was too warm and fuzzy for me. I could not hook up with the overly friendly colloquial tone that suggests reader and writer are buddy-buddy.

*“Skyscrapers – why Akron has ‘em!”
*“Impending loss. Knowing for sure that loss is coming and prophylactically mourning it. (A poetry that was lost; ‘beloved voices now silent.’) Man, I was anticipating it from way before I knew what it meant.”
*“Nothing can approach them; they are just like life! They define life!”
*“I can’t help it if I want to live in the past! It’s my past, the time forty years ago when there was still some wide open space into which to insert some dreaming…”

Have I mentioned that I dislike the exclamation mark? I do!!!!!!!

Further, if there’s anything that irritates me it’s writers referring to themselves in the third person (unless they're insane). I like to believe it’s not happening. But it is.

*“Thirty-five years ago a certain demented daughter…”
*“One of these forlorn figures wore an oversized black herringbone man’s coat with the cuffs turned back…”

What is it about personal third-person references that irk me so much? I wish I knew; it must have to do with the presumption I’m ready to swallow someone’s own version of themselves, or a sense that the speaker has done way too much navel-gazing… I’ll have to research this…

Some verbs, when mixed with colloquial diction, come off like fussy dress-up verbs, eg bewail, opine and bemoan. (Lament would have been a welcome respite.) We’ve got this going on, too.

For me the author went too heavy on referencing (poetry, essays, etc). When the lyrics of Chrissie Hynde’s “Ohio” showed up in full, it was almost too much for me. No, not almost. It was too much. Not that I don’t like the song. It just seemed, what, gratuitous? Or like nailing a point home that already had an icepick in it.

Bristled, I couldn’t keep from nit-picking. For example – “Akron preferred its food with a white accent or, if colored, primary, like Lucky Charms.” Listen folks, Lucky Charms are not primary colors. If you remember the ad, they’re “pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, green clovers.” And besides that, those marshmallow charms are pastel, which cannot be primary. Sorry, I’m growing very small, I know. I would like to be more big-hearted.

You can see it tortured me to continue. I put the book aside. I found it repetitive and gushy. After the first segment on Akron, which through no fault of its own I now officially hate, I was still waiting for the book to start. Where’s the sad? I want the melancholy. The grave. The haunted. The serious. Not just shiny nostalgia.

But hey, great cover. And if you cut the book down to a four-page essay, extricating the crap and exclamation marks, or turned it into a lyrical poem, probably I’d like it.

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Reading Progress

11/09/2009 page 60
28.85% "disappointing so far, hoping to soldier on"
11/18/2009 page 61
29.33% "oh man I am just not hooking up with the warm fuzziness of this..."

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Babiak This is why I never go home to Florida. I don't want to see it as it is now; it'll break my heart.

message 2: by S. (new) - rated it 1 star

S. I know. Development! It's unbelievable. Last month I visited the street I grew up on. I knocked on the door of my old house, but unfortunately no one was home. But the street is much as I remember it, acorns, fire hydrants, and all.

message 3: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Yikes. I was so excited to read this, but I too hate exclamation points and am irked by folksy writers who refer to themselves in the third person. Thanks for the warning.

message 4: by S. (new) - rated it 1 star

S. I really don't like giving such a negative review, but this was just not my thing. I looked through the other reviews and they're mostly glowing. A matter of taste, I guess.

message 5: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Babiak Wendy Babiak loves this review!!! The humor, the rancor...all too much!!! She bemoans it's not a better book, what with the valid premise and haunting cover which deserved more, but at least you've done her the favor of sparing her the expense and the torture of buying and reading it, so she thanks you heartily. (tee hee)

message 6: by S. (new) - rated it 1 star

S. This reviewer thanks you for opining!

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