Thursday, February 24, 2011

Two new memoirs I want to read...

Maxine Hong Kingston released her I Love a Broad Margin to My Life in January (an interesting, if slightly cumbersome and pretentious title), a book I still haven't managed to get my hands on. When I was in college, I took a class on Asian American writing and was drawn to her book China Men as a door to a world I knew almost nothing about, having grown up in one of the whitest and most racially homogenous parts of the US. The book (as well as her other well-known book, Woman Warrior) has come and gone in and out fashion since I was an undergraduate for a variety of reasons, but it really affected me as a young man and after Maxine Hong Kongston, I read Amy Tan and Li-Young Lee. Yet though I've read Kingston's books a few times over the years, I know little about her as a person, as an individual. Her memoir is definitely on my list.

Another book that is at the top of my list this year is Joan Didion's Blue Nights, her memoir to be released later this year by Knopf. Her books always fascinate me: from her seminal Slouching Towards Bethlehem, where she explores the tumultuous sixties, Charles Manson, and Haight-Ashbury, to her essays on 1970s US involvement in Central and Latin American politics, to Democracy and 1980s Reaganomics and Wall Street shenanigans, Didion has always been at the forefront of the movement breaking down the barrier between high culture and pop culture. Her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking, a chronicle of a year of grief and mourning after the death of her husband (kind of fashionable topic, it seems, given the recent flood of such books by Joyce Carol Oates and others), isn't a perfect book but it's damn near perfect. At any rate, I read it in a single sitting because I simply couldn't put it down. In fact, I recommended it to my mom a few months ago -- she emailed me a few weeks back and told me she'd loved it.

Really can't wait to get my hands on her new memoir...

                                              Joan Didion, 1970s

1 comment:

  1. Enlightening as usual. I miss Vox and the ease of navigating to read updates, especially yours. Please don't stop blogging! I enjoy your writing so much and am probably not alone in lurking!