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Search tags: memoirs-or-diaries
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review 2018-01-02 03:42
Vacationland by John Hodgeman
Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches - John Hodgman

John Hodgeman throws away centuries of WASP tradition and tells everyone what he's <i>feeling</i>. The silver lining is that people can finally talk about how horrible Maine is. The water is freezing, the beaches are sharp, the lakes are bottomed with Lovecraftian horrors, and the people hate you.

Despite all of that, Hodgman carries over some of the charm of the region into his humorous essays. Where he falls apart is the whole white privilege thing. It doesn't matter how often you deprecatingly point it out, there's still something distasteful about reading about the problems of having enough money to hold onto additional houses for sentimental reasons.

There are also some problematic stories about recreational pot, which is like listening to someone talk about how much beer they drank in college, and other stories that need something more than what Hodgeman put into them to make them rise above their subject matter. That is a super-vague criticism, but its all I've got at the moment.

The positives are that even in those downer-essays there are nuggets of humor and insight that made me roar with laughter. Hodgeman is a funny guy, and this is a successful funny book.

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review 2017-12-31 15:13
Southern Holidays
A Christmas Memory, One Christmas, & The Thanksgiving Visitor - Truman Capote

Truman Capote's charming, magical memories of his childhood Christmas and Thanksgiving with his mother's Monroeville, Alabama family -- particularly his much elder and much-beloved cousin Miiss Sook, who thanks to her own child-like nature was mother, grandmother and elder sister to him simultaneously; but, most importantly, the greatest source of warmth, love and compassion of his entire childhood.  In the book's second (individually, last-published) entry the Monroeville experience is contrasted with the one (sadly failed) attempt by Capote's father to make up for years of non-parenting, and seeing all three stories published together, the contrast -- and the boundless warmth of Capote's Monroeville home, and of Miss Sook -- is brought out in an even brighter light, (As an aside, it is easy, too, to recognize the place, and the traits of individual personalities, in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, which was inspired by the same community.)

 

Since this book doesn't merely include two Christmas but also a Thanksgiving memory, for 16 Festive Tasks purposes I'm going to use it as my book for the Thanksgiving holiday book joker.

 

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review 2017-11-11 23:48
Over a month behind...yikes!
Spinning - Tillie Walden,Tillie Walden

Tillie Walden's Spinning is a graphic novel/memoir in the vein of Blankets or Stitches, err, with less child abuse. It chronicles the author's competitive experience with figure skating as a child, falling in love, learning how to communicate, and the changes she was undergoing and why she ultimately felt like she had to leave the sport behind.

 

Despite also being an introvert and being on the queer spectrum, the only pieces of Walden's experience that I could personally relate to were parental indifference to sports involvement. I, of course, used that as an excuse to never play any sports past 3rd grade. This is also one of the first books I can immediately tell has been created by someone younger than my generation. There's a quality to the book, not to mention the ubiquity of handheld smart electronics, that I can't pinpoint that made me feel ancient. It was a great experience.

 

This was a great find, highly recommended for any teen reader (or older) looking for a good coming of age story. Walden's storytelling transcends any pigeon-holes a bookseller may be tempted to use to categorize her book.

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review 2017-10-26 09:22
A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life - Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy was a writer I had known of over many years by reputation. His books, 'The Lords of Discipline', 'The Great Santini', 'The Prince of Tides', and 'My Losing Season' I knew of through either their movie adaptations or via a National Public Radio (NPR) interview. This NPR interview Conroy gave when he was promoting his novel, 'My Losing Season' was one of the best I had ever heard. Conroy was so engaging, both with the radio host and the callers, that he made me - who has yet to read any of his novels - interested in the subject matter. Here was someone, I felt, who cared deeply about the subjects in his novel, and had a deep love for language and the written word. I was enthralled.

So, when I recently came across "A LOWCOUNTRY HEART: Reflections on a Writing Life" in a local independent bookstore, I had to have it. And it doesn't disappoint. This book - containing several of Pat Conroy's musings, reflections, blogs (a word he deplored), speeches, and eulogies from his widow, daughter, and best friend - gives the reader as full and rich a measure of Pat Conroy the writer and man that we are likely to get. He came across to me as a writer who loved and cherished the written word, the fans of his books, enjoyed the company of his fellow writers and their books, was very encouraging and supportive of women writers and up-and-coming writers, valued people, and embraced life to the full. 

"A LOWCOUNTRY HEART" I highly recommend for anyone who wants a fuller understanding of who Pat Conroy was and why his novels encapsulate so much of the magic, power, and beauty of geography, as well as the varied dimensions of the human condition throughout life.

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review 2017-09-23 03:20
THE WONDERS & PERILS OF BEING A 'NIGHT HAWK' IN WARTIME EUROPE
Enemy in the Dark: The Story of a Luftwaffe Night-fighter Pilot (Fortunes of War) - Peter Spoden

Here, in his own words, Peter Spoden, shares with the reader his experiences as a Luftwaffe night-fighter pilot with the Fifth & Sixth Night Fighter Wings (NJG 5 & NJG 6) in the West between the Spring of 1943 and the end of the war in May 1945. Spoden survived a number of close-calls in his battles against British bombers attacking the Reich and emerged from the war with 24 victories to his credit. 

"ENEMY IN THE DARK" is a sobering memoir of both the wonders and perils of wartime combat flying by night.

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