Monday, October 14, 2013

something fierce: memoirs of a revolutionary daughter, a book club review

I don't read a lot of memoirs. For me, novels have a truth and a reality that someone telling their own story cannot equal. I read on Twitter this week "you are a continuously unfolding story told by an unreliable narrator: act accordingly," and it rang very true for me especially in thinking about writing this review.

Carmen Aguirre's memoir covers her life from the ages of eight to eighteen years - an age span that is particularly unreliable. As she travels between Vancouver, Chile, Argentina and holidays in Brazil, Carmen is indoctrinated into her parents' revolutionary beliefs. Or is she? Her frequent admissions of bourgeois desires reinforce the impression that she is not to be believed without question, and her motives for action throughout the book are unclear at best. 

In the end, Aguirre's story failed for me: it failed to engage, it failed to inspire, and it failed to inform. I did not trust her motives either in action in the story or in its telling. Her presentation of 'facts' turned me off the things that mattered to her, even those that I would naturally otherwise support. And, at the end of the book I was no more clear about the reality of South America in the revolutionary 1980's than I had been before I read the book. 

Aguirre's style is mildly entertaining, which made the book somewhat less of a slog. After the bounty of great books we've read so far in book club, this one gets filed under 'Meh." 
Amazon Associate link

About the club, not the book:

Unfortunately, book club was cancelled this month. I think we'll have to work to make sure that the show goes on no matter what, but sometimes things happen - I had a migraine, another member was recovering from dental surgery, a third had a cold. You get the point. We didn't get our dinner, and more importantly we didn't get our evening of awesome conversation.

That's okay though - we'll have that much more to share when we get together in November. 

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