Thursday, July 15, 2010

An American Childhood

by Annie Dillard

I finally finished this book!!

I have had a very long love/hate relationship with this book, and I am glad it is over.
"What would you do if you had fifteen minutes to live before the bomb went off? Quick: What would you read?" - Annie Dillard
Not this book!

It's dull.

I imagine this book being dictated by an adorable elderly grandmother from her old wooden rocking chair, with a self-knitted blanket on her lap and a cup of tea by her side.

This book is lovely. It is well written, sweet, and poetic, very Wordsworthian. But it's just too precious for me.

First of all, all the talk about the interior and exterior life, it's nice, but no eight year old is contemplating it in such metaphoric language. Either narrate this book in the present looking back, or as your young self, don't flip-flop and make yourself out to have been the most insightful, melancholic, intelligent eight-year-old there has ever been. I'm not buying it. She idealizes her young self and her childhood so much, it's really off putting. Everyone in her past was sweet and intelligent and funny and bold. Where's the conflict? Oh, you were a moody teenager. That's not enough. That's not real.

There are some amusing little stories about Dillard's childhood which are cute and well written, but, again, she uses high, poetic language to analyze these cute moments which ruin them. Children do not think in those terms.

Typically I like reading memoirs, but not this one. To make a good memoir, I either have to have an interest in the person or an interest in their exotic/traumatic/chaotic life. This book has none of that, and worse, it's dull.

This is our July book discussion book, and I have no idea what we're going to talk about. Maybe I missed some insightful moments, but I doubt it since Dillard really leads her reader by the hand every step of the way.

At least the book was short.

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