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Personal Memoirs

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Darwin8u

Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States Member Since 2011

A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

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  • "Sharp, sometimes funny, but always ..."

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    In four days it will be one year since my father-in-law died in an accidental shooting. He had recently turned 60 and recently celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary. In 18 days it will be four years since my older brother died suddenly in a black hawk crash in Germany. He was closing in on his 40th birthday. He was preparing to land.

    I had two father-figures in my life. I also had two brothers. I lost one of each pair suddenly - dramatically. I've watched my wife struggle with the loss of her father. I've watched my mother-in-law struggle with the sad death and absence of her husband. I've watched my sister-in-law and her kids struggle with the death of their husband and father. I've watched my parents, my siblings. I have grieved much myself for these two good men.

    I was reading when they died. I know this. When my father-in-law died I was reading 'Falconer'. When my brother died I was reading 'This Is Water'. After their deaths I couldn't read for weeks, and struggled with reading for months. I was in prison. I was drowning in a water I could neither see nor understand.

    Reading Didion's sharp, sometimes funny, but always clear and precise take on her husband's death and her daughter's illness ... my experience is reflected. Not exactly. I'm no Joan Didion and my relationship with both my father-in-law and my brother are mine. However, Didion captures in the net of her prose the essence of grief, tragedy, loss, coping, remembering. He memoir makes me wonder how it is even possible that someone could both feel a semblance of what I feel and capture all the sad glitters, glints and mudgyness of mourning at the same time. It takes a helluva writer.

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    The Year of Magical Thinking

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Joan Didion
    • Narrated By Barbara Caruso
    Overall
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    "Life changes fast....You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends." These were among the first words Joan Didion wrote in January 2004. Her daughter was lying unconscious in an intensive care unit, a victim of pneumonia and septic shock. Her husband, John Gregory Dunne, was dead. The night before New Year's Eve, while they were sitting down to dinner, he suffered a massive and fatal coronary. The two had lived and worked side by side for nearly 40 years.

    Darwin8u says: "Sharp, sometimes funny, but always clear & precise"
  • "Parts I loved, Parts I hated but Pl..."

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    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.

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    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Dave Eggers
    • Narrated By Dion Graham
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    (156)
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    Dave Eggers scored a worldwide phenomenon with this memoir that topped national best-seller lists and has since become a staple for summer reading and book clubs. A compelling voice for Generation X, Eggers hererecounts his early 20s, caring for his younger brother after their parents’ unexpected deaths and his endeavors in a variety of media.

    Darwin8u says: "Parts I loved, Parts I hated but Playfully Kinetic"
  • "Beautiful, unsentimental memoir of ..."

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    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.

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    This Boy's Life

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Tobias Wolff
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
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    This book essentially launched the memoir craze that has been going strong ever since. The story is pretty grim: teen-aged Wolff moves with his divorced mother from Florida to Utah to Washington State to escape her violent boyfriend. When she remarries, Wolff finds himself in a bitter battle of wills with his abusive stepfather, a contest in which the two prove to be more evenly matched than might have been supposed.

    Darwin8u says: "Beautiful, unsentimental memoir of youth"
  1. The Year of Magical Thinking
  2. A Heartbreaking Work of S...
  3. This Boy's Life
  4. .

karyn

karyn richmond, VA, United States 03-07-13 Member Since 2010
HELPFUL VOTES
112
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5
  • "Great Story Bland Reading"

    6 of 6 helpful votes

    I am a huge memoir fan and have listened to a bunch. While I found the story interesting I was distracted by the monotone reading. There was no character or inflection to give life to the words and I wish I would have just bought the book and read it.

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    Her: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Christa Parravani
    • Narrated By Christa Parravani
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    (48)
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    (42)
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    Raised up from poverty by a determined single mother, gifted and beautiful twin sisters Christa and Cara Parravani were able to create a private haven of splendor and amusement that they shared between themselves. They earned their way into a prestigious college, established careers as artists (a photographer and a writer, respectively), and entered young marriages. But plagued by their father's early rejection of them and further damaged by being raped as a young woman, Cara veered into depression, drugs, and a shocking early death.

    karyn says: "Great Story Bland Reading"

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    • By Joseph Bottum
    • Narrated By Brian Troxell
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    • By Peter M. Wolf
    • Narrated By Steve Coulter
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    • By Lydia Denworth
    • Narrated By Karen Saltus
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
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