A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
There are parts of this book I absolutely loved. There are also parts of it I definitely hated. I think Eggers' talent is obvious, his playfulness kinetic, his abilility to make his own grief/history both gruesome and beautiful by basically eating every experience and person surrounding him (disposal of his mom's ashes is a good example). Eventually his thinking about the thinking and thinking about the thinking about thinking kinda drove me a little nuts.
I do want to distinguish my own discomfort with this early Dave Eggers book from the current jealous-hipster backlash against Eggers. Yes, my hipster MFA people, Eggesr isn't Henry James, certainly, but still he manages to subvert the artificial separation between fiction and memoirs in aHWofSG. So, just admit that part of your animosity towards this book is that you didn't think of it, write it, or end up actually being able to make a living/achieve fame from a book you wrote in your twenties (same feelings that bubbles up whenever a Foer brother publishes something)
I'm also glad I waited to read/listen to this until Eggers had proven through McSweeney's, and his more recent books of nonfiction and fiction, that he wasnt just a gimmicky one-hit-wonder.
Oh, and Dion Graham's read of aHWofSG was kindof amazing.
One of my favorite memoirs of all time. IT was perfect in its pacing, its pitch. It was a beautiful, but unsentimental look at youth, poverty, family, and all the cracks and fissures that the world creates to swallow the dreams of youth. Wolff's language still rings with me. I find myself, going back and reading whole passages of 'This Boy's Life' just to drink the language and the rub against the energy and charge of Wolff's vitality. A good memoirist gets the reader to experience the artist's past life through his words, a great memoirist seduces the reader into a place where the reader suddenly recognizes the universal experiences in our shared lives.
There were parts of the book I felt like Tobias Wolff was not writing his history, but mine. The details of our lives might have been different, our stories might be adolescent antipoles, but I read Wolff and I think he has robbed me of my emotions, faked my youthful hope, slandered my stripling reputation, and squandered all of my schoolboy potential.
An abridged collection of some of the best StoryCorps inteviews. If you are an NPR "Morning Edition" listener, you've probably caught a couple of Isay's StoryCorps recordings. My favorite aspect of this project is the relationship between the interviewer and interviewee. With most 'professional' journalism there is a structural distance between the two participants. StoryCorps quickly allows this distance to melt, because it is often a daughter interviewing a grandma, a son interviewing a mother, a father speaking with his daughter.
There are many aspects of this project that remind me of Studs Terkel (Isay seems to be a 21st century extention of Terkel in many ways). It is a people's history and narrative of the ordinary that is made extraordinary in its ability to communicate truth without being overly sentimental.
Thanks Isay and Audible for the Thanksgiving gift.
This book, read by the author, is a treasure if you can get over the fact that his reading, in parts, is a little, for lack of a better word, clunky. You have to cut the author some slack, as English is just one of many languages he speaks, his native tongue being Swedish.
This book is full of wonderful descriptions of food, and if one is familiar with the ingredients and has a strong sense memory, one can almost taste the food being served.
Mr. Sameulsson's story is compelling and message-driven. At the beginning, I was a little annoyed at his attempt to turn his story into one about race. (Race issues in the 90s? Really?) But in the end, the totality of his experiences, especially his work in Harlem, did justify the tack he took.
This work provides a wonderful sense of how the author has grown as a chef, a businessman, a father and a son. And the arc of the book does resolve on a high and positive note. It's an improbable story told with heart.
All that aside, this listening experience was worthwhile just to hear the author read the word, "lemongrass."