It’s no coincidence that my absence from blogging occurred at around the same time I joined the library. I’ve been reading a lot over the last 6 months. Most recently, I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs.
First was Portia de Rossi’s Unbearable Lightness which focused on her battle with anorexia and bulimia. This was a surprisingly well written, raw and honest account that provided a fascinating window into the mind of someone struggling with anorexia. Her unhealthy relationship with food had me reflecting on my own habits I don’t have any sort of eating disorder, but I found I could relate to her quite easily. The book provided an even more fascinating and slightly disturbing insight into the workings of Hollywood. It’s well worth a read if you are interested in that sort of thing.
Next was Hipstermattic by Matt Granfield, in which he self deprecatingly documents his attempts to become the ultimate hipster. It was fairly light and amusing, and for a moment I was pleased to discover that I might be hipper than I originally thought because I like to drink cider and knit. But then it occurred to me that since I know those things are hip, they’ve no doubt become mainstream and therefore incredibly unhip.
Following this was Rob Lowe’s Stories I Only Tell My Friends. Well, clearly that’s not true, because he’s written them all down in a book that anyone can read. I found his memoir entertaining and intriguing. It was interesting to read about his childhood experiences and his efforts to break into the acting world. Much of his life since his early fame has been well documented, but it was great to read it from his perspective. There were echoes of some of the disturbing insights in to Hollywood that I encountered in Portia de Rossi’s book as well. There is so much money to be made and the drive to make profits seem to out weigh other important consideration such as the health and welfare of employees. Lowe did gloss over a number of things, most notably that incident with the underage girl. I enjoyed the book, but I don’t think it was as honest as Portia’s. I always had the sense he was trying to present himself in the best possible light.
Finally was The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. De Waal inherits a collection of netsuke, small Japanese figurines. They have been handed down through his family for five generations. De Waal traces their history and movement through his family and in doing so manages to write a family chronicle that takes us from Paris to Vienna, England and Japan all at pivotal points in those countries’ histories. The netsuke were rescued from his great grandparents’ home by their maid, after their house and assets were seized in the Nazi occupation of Vienna. As well as a family chronicle, the memoir is a history of art, of war and antisemitism. While de Waal’s family were almost destroyed by the Nazi’s, they could also be considered some of the lucky ones because they survived. It’s a challenging read, and not to everyone’s taste, but I recommend it highly.
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