Sunday, September 8, 2013

Alphabet reading returns!


 Featuring: K * L * M

Its good to be back blogging again after a hiatus to accommodate my new schedule as a full-time employee outside the home. During that time, I re-started my alphabet reading picking up at "K" where I had left off. My choice was Mary Karr's, Liars' Club, a memoir that had been nagging me to read it for some time. Karr's language is such that her East Texas childhood was easy to visualize. My "L" selection was a short memoir, Let Me Go, Helga Schneider's cathartic account of finally meeting her Nazi mother after 27-years of abandonment.  Lastly, for my "M" pick, I walked along with Moying Li as she visited her memories of surviving China's cultural revolution. Her account added another layer to my understanding of that difficult time in Chinese history.

Mary Karr's Liars' Club belongs to the group of abuse memoirs whose writing and occasional humor salvage them from becoming annals of self-pity and blame. While Karr doesn't scurry away from the pain of her childhood or from divulging the shortcomings of her parents, her mentally ill mother, in particular, she doesn't scare the reader away with the sheer weight of her emotional trauma. Although, I'm reluctant to put it in the same positive category as Jeanette Walls' Glass Castle, Liars' Club didn't strike me as a negative book.

One aspect of the book that I found exceptional was Karr's ability to recreate vividly clear childhood memories. I found her knack to assemble the right words together (right in the sense that they were adult enough not to bore a nature reader, but simple enough that they felt true to childhood memory) on paper in an elegant way. While Karr is not "elegant" in the same way that say, poetess Mary Oliver is, her sentences flow with a beauty of her own. She's not given to overusing words or limiting her vocabulary to typical American-ese. She puts into service a nice variety of descriptors, action verbs without the array seeming gaudy or contrived.
Mary Karr

A second impression I left with was a respect for Karr's strength to survive and thrive in spite of her tumultuous childhood. I found this aspect of her story highly motivating, feeling that given the magnitude of Karr's hurdles she overcame that anyone could survive any obstacle.

Lastly, Liars' club gave a clear picture of the barren East Texas 1960s culture. I found it interesting how different East Texans were, but yet how much they were the same. 

Liars' club garners   4 stars from me. I recommend to readers who loved The Glass Castle.


Let Me Go by Helga Schneider

"I'm seeing you again after twenty-seven years, Mother...." pulls the reader into Let Me Go by Helga Schneider from the get-go of this memoir. Unlike The Liars' Club, Schneider doesn't hold back describing her feelings and emotions over being the daughter of an unrepentant Nazi mother. Her raw emotion sprinkles the 166 pages that comprise this book. Frankly, I found it a relief that the book was short because of its intensity. Although this wasn't a memoir that I was eager to pick up, I found it to be a highly important book. In that regard, I'd put it in the same category as The Diary of Anne Frank. The state of Schneider's mother's mind, her Nazi brainwashing .
and inability to let go of her Nazi prejudices and ways were incredible to say the least. Although this is not a book I would care to read again, I found it to be an essential book in regards to the information it offers about the Nazi mindset and World War II history.

Highly recommend for World War II historians and memoir readers. 

4 stars


the cover of this book proclaims Booklist's opinion that this book "will grab readers with the eloquent account of daily trauma and hope." I agree. Although, I don't think this is the best memoir of Mao's China, this would serve as a good introduction to readers who want a short, palatable book about the Cultural Revolution. 

Why this book only received 3 stars from me is because either Moying Li's family and friends didn't suffer to the degree that other memoirists did or she tones it down. There is loyalty, trust and lenience that doesn't exist in other books such as Wild Swans.
Moying Li

Wild Swans, by the way, is the best account I've read to date about the cultural revolution and the one I would recommend first and foremost. While I do not regret reading Snow Falling in Spring, I would only tout it to readers who want a quick, brief history of the cultural revolution.

3 Stars


Audiobook that were amazing!