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Bios & Memoirs > Personal Memoirs

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.

HELPFUL VOTES
7075
ratings
REVIEWS
394
390
FOLLOWERS
FOLLOWING
1177
14
  • "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
    (1275)
    Performance
    (408)
    Story
    (411)

    "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.

    More

    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Dave Eggers
    • Narrated By Dion Graham
    Overall
    (280)
    Performance
    (182)
    Story
    (185)

    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
    Overall
    (124)
    Performance
    (84)
    Story
    (84)

    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. .

Andy

Andy Westport, CT, United States 03-16-12 Member Since 2002
HELPFUL VOTES
465
ratings
REVIEWS
427
321
FOLLOWERS
FOLLOWING
248
0
  • "surprising and inspiring"

    27 of 28 helpful votes

    Chester Nez lays out an inspiring journey that took him from his Native American homeland to a key strategic role in World War II, and on to a life in pursuit of the American dream. One of the most enjoyable audiobooks I've listened to in over a decade as an AudibleListener. Narration was super too.

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    Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WW II

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Chester Nez, Judith Schiess Avila
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (372)
    Performance
    (317)
    Story
    (325)

    Chester Nez, the only surviving member of the original twenty-nine Navajo code talkers, shares the fascinating inside story of his life and service during World War II.

    Roxane says: "Interesting Listen for WWII Buffs"

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    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
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    Story
    (1)

    The 15 major-league managers interviewed in The Man in the Dugout represent six decades of baseball - men like Joe McCarthy of the New York Yankees and Walter Alston of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Each oral history, steeped in nostalgia and confidentiality, is a record of the triumphs and defeats of the man carrying the prime responsibility of a multimillion-dollar franchise. Here the manager is revealed as a strategist, tactician, peacemaker, politician, ego-soother, and builder of self-confidence.

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    Overall
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    Performance
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    (0)

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    Wendy Law-Yone was 15 at the time of Burma's military coup in 1962. The daughter of Ed Law-Yone, daredevil proprietor of Rangoon Nation, Burma's leading postwar English-language daily, she experienced firsthand the perils and promises of a newly independent Burma. On the eve of Wendy's studies abroad, Ed Law-Yone was arrested, his newspaper shut down, and Wendy herself was briefly imprisoned. After his release, Ed fled to Thailand with his family, where he formed a government-in-exile.

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  • Wolfsong in Georgia: Memoirs of a German Shepherd Dog Family (






UNABRIDGED) by Alice Lovejoy Carnahan Narrated by Kristin James

    Wolfsong in Georgia: Memoirs of a German Shepherd Dog Family

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 58 mins)
    • By Alice Lovejoy Carnahan
    • Narrated By Kristin James
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    Follow Delta and her puppies Oscar, Christmas, Bonnnie, Misha, and Alexandra from the pups' conception throughout their lives, in this memoir of a German Shepherd dog family. The stories highlight their triumphs and tragedies. These dogs comforted dying patients and their families, overcame immense adversity, and never lost their love for life and for people, from newborns to 90-year-olds.

  • French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules (






UNABRIDGED) by Karen Le Billon Narrated by Cris Dukehart

    French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Karen Le Billon
    • Narrated By Cris Dukehart
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    When she moved her young family to her husband's hometown in northern France, Karen Le Billon expected some cultural adjustment. But she didn't expect to be lectured for slipping her fussing toddler a snack, or to be forbidden from packing her older daughter a school lunch. Karen is intrigued by the fact that French children happily eat everything-from beets to broccoli, from salad to spinach - while French obesity rates are a fraction of what they are in North America.

  • The Cuckoo Pen (






UNABRIDGED) by Fred Archer Narrated by Vincent Brimble

    The Cuckoo Pen

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Fred Archer
    • Narrated By Vincent Brimble
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    When Fred Archer was a boy, men’s voices were deep and mellow as they rang out following the plough, or in church on Sundays; a farmer could make a living with a herd of twenty cows; and each village had its own blacksmith and wheelwright. The Cuckoo Pen recreates those days of the 1920s and ‘30s when life was so different from today. Here was a time when workers enjoyed a mutual rapport, their long days of hard work punctuated only by the turning rhythm of the seasons and the pleasure of a chat.

  • Hawthorn Farm (






UNABRIDGED) by Fred Archer Narrated by Daniel Philpott

    Hawthorn Farm

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Fred Archer
    • Narrated By Daniel Philpott
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    This is the story of a Worcestershire farm from the 1930s to the 1970s, highlighting the great changes in farming practices and the people who found themselves part of the agricultural and country life. Alongside the story of the owners, Fred Archer provides the listener with rich anecdotes of village life - the pea-picker and his gypsy wife, the excitement caused by the arrival of the land girls and the terrible effects of myxomatosis.