This book is somewhere between an essay collection and a memoir. It examines the criss-crossing lines of politics, literature, and art, and shares writing and financial advice (especially germane to writers!). It also shares, with profound generosity, a lot from Alexander Chee's life. As a writer, Chee is interested in the constructed self, how identity can be a mask that conceals and also reveals. His self-reflection on how his own identities have served, protected, and hindered him is also an persistent, gentle invitation to the reader to remember that "the ways you are human are not always visible to yourself." There's a lot to encounter within these pages, written in Chee's easy and luminous way, but if that seems like a message you need to hear I can't recommend this book enough. I read it in the way you drink a glass of water from the bathroom tap late at night - thirstily, greedily, and with need.
I read Priestdaddy when it came out last year. Normally this is a book I wouldn't have picked up, but it came highly recommended and now I'm so glad I did. Lockwood is a gifted writer that had me shamelessly laughing out loud in public. In Priestdaddy, she chronicles her time moving back in with her parents at her father's rectory. Lockwood covers an entire year living with her parents in an outlandish (and sometimes painful) collision of past and present. Her history also rang familiar to me and I found myself painfully relating to her own reckonings with faith and family.
This is not just another addiction memoir. But don't worry—that's the point. Jamison's own story is told in fragments, interspersed with the stories of many others (names you already know, others the world never will), brilliantly structured much like the AA meetings that ultimately helped her get sober. Each story is a drop in the bucket, a part of the whole. It is Jamison's voice—unflinching, self aware—and not necessarily her story that captivates. She is not tone deaf to the experiences of others, which serves her well as she presents so many stories alongside her own. I was so ready to dismiss this book, but I simply couldn't. I couldn't put it down; nor could I put it out of my mind.
Wow. What a ride. It's astounding that the author lived to tell this story of her escape from a childhood of neglect and casual violence. Articulate and introspective, she gradually breaks the psychological hold of her mentally ill father and discovers the world outside her Idaho mountain home, where schools and modern medicine are not considered instruments of the Illuminati.
Eat the Apple is a fierce, gut-wrenching memoir of Young's years as a Marine surviving not two, but three tours in Iraq. Fresh out of high school and heading towards disaster, Young enlisted in the Marines and Eat the Apple is his account of those booze drenched amped up times. Told in short chapters, some in play form, others in first person, others in third person, some accompanied by crude drawings his story is by turns gripping, hilarious, appalling and often heartbreaking. The toll of unending, senseless war is devastating. This is an incredibly honest and unforgettable book.
A drowning. A birth. A conversation with a killer. These are all moments when O'Farrell's story could have ended.
When I was nine I had my on brush with death. I'd lingered too long chatting with my bus driver, and the man behind the bus got impatient. Just as I went to step off, a blur of red, a rush of air sweeping my hair to the side. The bus driver was furious, but I was perplexed. As O'Farrell's memoir unfurled with lyrical anecdotes of her possible demises, I couldn't help but relive mine as well. Death is never far, but sometimes we slip its grasp for a moment, safe until our next encounter.
At the insanely young age of 21, Tillie Walden is already an incredible talent, and Spinning is exactly the kind of moving, insightful coming-of-age tale for girls that my wife is always complaining don't exist.
Myth, memoir, history, and poetry deftly blend in this dreamlike, magical journey through one of the most contested landscapes in Europe - from the crossroads of ancient armies, thorugh the shifting borders of the cold war, into the present-day routes of Syrian refugees. Kasabova's descriptions - especially her character sketches - are sharp and unforgettable.
A heartbreaking and intense memoir about Conley's experience in a 12-step ex-gay conversion program and more deeply, his knotty, complicated relationship with his parents. Conley's deeply embedded trauma from the shame-based dogma in his father's ministry and the sorrow he experienced in conversion therapy is both infuriating to behold and beautiful to read. He holds true to a non-condemning world where no one is demonized nor are they a saint.