Oriana's Reviews > Nowhere to Be Home: Narratives From Survivors of Burma's Military Regime

Nowhere to Be Home by Maggie Lemere
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's review
Jan 10, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: read-for-work, read-2011
Read from January 10 to 17, 2011

This made my CCLaP best-of-2011 list.

A few months ago I was on the subway, and a shambling, mumbling young guy came lurching toward me from the other end of the car, swaying and asking for change. I made one of those quick judgements, like you do, and decided that I wasn't going to give him any money. I was all the way at the end of the car, and he made it to my side and sort of came to rest next to me. I kept my face buried in my book. At the next station, a trio of those acrobatic dancing guys got on. I don't know if this is a national phenomenon, but they are all over the NYC subways. It's usually three, usually dudes, usually young and thuggish. These motherfuckers are amazing. They do these crazy flips and falls and balances, right in the middle of the moving, crowded train, swinging from the handrails and leaping over each other and holding themselves parallel to the ground on the poles. It's fucking nuts. Anyway, I always give those kids money, and I wanted to give them money this time too, and but then I remembered that the other guy was still standing next to me. It's not like I really think he believed me that I was so engrossed in my book that I failed to hear him asking for money, and it's not that I was quailing with fear of being judged by this guy, but still, as I put my coins in the upturned ballcap of one of the gymnasts, I felt like a total shithead. Like I've come to a point in my charitable life where I require entertainment for my alms? Or like how living in a big city forces you to all the time make these rankings, stratifying people according to some inner barometer of need or deservingness? Or like why couldn't I be rich enough that I could just give and give and give, coins by the fistful, to every person who ever asks? Why am I such a dick?

None of this has anything to do with Burma, obviously. But here's why I told that story: A little while ago I proofread the previous book in this series, Hope Deferred, and it totally wrecked me. And this one, too, was crushing, and harrowing, and shocking, and depressing. But somehow not quite as much, I guess. It didn't make me weep, certainly. So I again feel like a total douche, like I somehow again am in a position to rank the suffering of the world, and have decided that Zimbabwe has it worse.

They don't. The shit in Burma is awful. The people there are in dire, dire straights. The world is a horrible mess. What is going on? Fuck. Everyone should pay full price for and then read every single book in the Voice of Witness series, and you guys, we should fix the goddamn world somehow.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Bill (new)

Bill it drives me absolutely crazy when i hear people complaining about canada. i'm like, do you have any idea how fucking lucky you are to live here? do you ever watch the fucking news to seehow people live in most of the rest of the world? half the fucking people on the planet live in mud huts and are getting slaughtered regularly...zimbabwe, burma, tunisia, ivory coast etc. etc. now there are problems in egypt. as far as i'm concerned canada is the best country on earth to live in and everybody that does live here should thank their fucking lucky stars. that's my rant for the day.

Oriana amen, bill! people just don't know how good they have it...

message 3: by Naomi (new)

Naomi Oriana--I tried to locate the works you mention under "totally wrecked me" and found nothing. Any advice for how to locate these sources or at least to learn more? Many thanks, naomi

Oriana Hey Naomi-- you mean Hope Deferred? I'm sure that, and this one, and all of their books are available on Amazon or wherever else, or you can buy them directly from Voice of Witness (which is McSweeney's). Here's the link for the Zimbabwe book: http://store.mcsweeneys.net/index.cfm..., and here's the Voice of Witness books page: http://www.voiceofwitness.com/books

Oriana there's also a link on this page http://voiceofwitness.com/hope-deferred/ to a download called "10 Things You Can Do for Zimbabwe"

message 6: by Naomi (new)

Naomi Thanks, Oriana! Much appreciated. :o)

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