Sep 8, 2013

A Memoirs Kind of Summer

In the spring, I bought four memoirs. Each one is very different from the other. Only one of the books is new, the rest have been out for a while. Lately, I have been drawn to real stories about people who are just like you and I. Some stories are about love, others about tragedy, and then there are ones of the strange kind. And yet, we are drawn to them like the moth to the flame.

I watched the movie Running with Scissors not very long ago.  It was recommended by one of my bipolar memoirs classmate to read the book before I saw the movie, but that didn't work out for me.  The book is based on Augusten Burroughs childhood\early manhood part of his life.  His mother is bipolar, the father is alcoholic, and in the middle is Augusten who is trying to find himself amidst all of the chaos.  I once had a counselor tell me that my family was the most dysfunctional family she had ever known. In a strange sort of way, I am comforted in knowing that there are others whose lives have been by far worse than mine.  And yet, Burroughs came out the winner. All of his life people would tell him that he was a writer.  He never thought about it. His journal was his best friend and he often spilled his guts onto the page.  There are five sentences in the book that touched me and I underlined them. He wrote, "And I walked around in a trance, daydreaming about Manhattan.  Trying to see if I could picture myself there among the skyscrapers and hot dog vendors. And I could see it...I threw the meat in my cart. And moved on."  Even though this is a bizarre story of which I really cannot relate to and at times unsettling; I found Burroughs memoir interesting and well worth the read.

My next memoir was The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison. It is the story of a girls loss, the loss of a father's love.  Only to be regained in the most unnatural way.  Kathryn's parents divorced when she was young.  She grew up with an emotionally distant mother. When her father re-enters her life in her teen years, Kathryn's whole existence takes a dramatic turn. Incest is an ugly, depraved act that not only is vile but severely damages the soul.  Both the perpetrator and the victim try to justify in their minds what is happening. I could honestly spit fire at the father regarding the injustice for things like this. People who think solely of themselves and not calculate the damage it will do to the victim. I've yet to figure out if it is sex or power that factors in the scenario. Nonetheless, it is very disturbing. Even if the subject matter was difficult to swallow, I found it hard to put the book down and read it within a few days time.   


The third memoir is by Kristy Robinett called Messenger between Worlds. I find anything paranormal fascinating. But I do have my comfort limit when it comes to this subject. I like the way Kristy wrote her memoir. She let the reader into her private life and I felt like I was right there with her. My own life resonated with hers in so many ways. Psychics have been given a very bad reputation because of so much deception.  To have this gift would be fabulous and horrible at the same time. Being open minded is one of the biggest pluses when reading about mediums and all that they do. The fact that many psychics\mediums work with the police department proves that their gift is viable whether we want to embrace this kind of spiritual arena or not. There is so much that I personally don't understand about the unusual goings on which happen so frequently on this vast plane where we live. It is not for me to try and figure it out.  The chapter entitled Voices spooked me a little but it didn't deter me from finishing the book.  Moreover, I am glad that people are stepping up to the plate and sharing their lives with those of us who are open to read about them.  

The fourth memoir was The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles by Hala Jaber. This is a deeply moving story of a journalist who is covering war torn Baghdad in 2003.  She came across two children,  three year old Zahra and newborn Hawra, who suddenly become orphans when a missle hits the family vehicle killing everyone except the two girls. Ms. Jaber, a native of Lebanon, is married and living a dream life in the west with her husband Steven. For ten years they try to have children. But it is not meant for her to conceive.  Trying to take her mind off of things, Hala goes into war zones to report on the recent unrest. She wanders from hospital to hospital, looking for just the right little girl that the world will fall in love with and hopefully be willing to help those in desperate need of medical care. This is not a story solely about orphans, war, or the Middleast, but about coming to terms with our lives.  I was deeply touched by the ending of this book.  It was not a fairy tale by no means, but a story of understanding both sides of the matter.  

Memoirs never really existed much until the last century.  What do you think about people who write about the good or the bad things that happen to them and then publish their writing? I agree that some things need to be exposed for what they are. But are we going too far by exposing things of the most intimate part of our lives?