Review of Book Which Name Shall Not Be Disclosed
What a waste of my time, truly. Starting over and over again to attempt to read this book. Pretending to be interested in yet another maudlin, navel gazing memoir some company deigned to publish. I cannot do it. I cannot finish it. I no longer feel guilty about it.
I knew I would have trouble with it before I picked it up, when you, the author, apologized to a group of young writers gathered at the store for your book launch event, anxious to meet a published writer; apologized for the condition of the world they are inheriting. How presumptuous to think you are the one to apologize for the actions of all those before you, to think you have the authority to speak for your generation. Your sense of self importance astounded me. You do not speak for me.
You write a tome about overcoming your terrible, horrible, hard, and damaging upbringing; about your brutal, priggish father; your sweet, cuckolded mother; neither of whom you will EVER be like… you hope. About your decision to be your own person, to speak your own mind (once you find it), to ROAR like no one before you. Helen Reddy sang a similar song in the 1970s. I am glad you finally heard it.
It is no small fete to overcome injustice. You do overcome. By doing what all people must do when they finally take to the road of maturity. Retreat, realize, recover, rejoice. You move to a cabin high in the hills, pull into yourself, hear your own pulse pumping through your veins in the silence of a mountain with all its glorious fresh air, hardcore winters, glistening, chirping springs, long (never long enough) deep summers…forgive yourself for doubting your own power; realize you are, and always were, in truth, a member of the larger community that sees you, protects you, knows you without imposing itself upon you.
The child assumes it is part of something by how many voices it can identify, how many faces are familiar, who holds it close. The adolescent relishes its protest, its documented struggle to slip free of the invisible chains choking it. The adult sees the truth…that all is familiar, all is common to your soul once you listen to yourself; perceived chains have no links; desperation solves nothing.
Your choice of words are worked into lovely phrases. The pace of your telling is steady, drawing the reader forward to the next clear point smoothly, without delay, yet somehow not rushed. The choking smell of the fire burning your cabin to the ground; the peace of the sound of the wind in the trees, your joy of the sight of your dog, all pull the reader into the space in which you stand. Your technique is practiced. Your wordsmithing is developed to almost master level. I appreciate it – some of what you writ echoes what I think, and surprisingly, things I have lived.
Not all of it, though. I quickly tire of lengthy personal stories of the misery out of which one rises; the bottom one hits, before a glorious, exuberant joy that gradually mellows to contentment; the written indignation, outrage exhausts the reader; the detailed justification of that outrage dulls all sense of sympathy.
“Bully for you,” is what I want to say. “Bully, bully, bully for you. You grew up. You gave up the constant angst, anger, and self-pity (did you?). You found (recognized) another who understands you. Brava!
But tell me: What do you intend to do with it? All your hard earned self-awareness? All your “I showed them” back patting? When will you give up the struggle you think defines you? And, most importantly to me, a book buying reader, why (you never told me why) should I care?