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Book Title: Autobiography of My Mother|
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Reader ratings: 7.5
The author of the book: Jamaica Kincaid
Edition: Farrar Straus Giroux
Date of issue: January 1st 1996
ISBN 13: 9780374107314
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 39.75 MB
City - Country: No data
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I am way to the left on criminal justice issues and am strongly opposed to capital punishment, but if there is one group of offenders forcing me to reconsider my commitment to the values I hold, it is probably that comprised of people who write in library books. I'd like a grant for a study researching both people who write in library books and people who engage in loud, long cellphone conversations in otherwise quiet and enclosed spaces (e.g., the bus from the Port Authority to Kingston, NY; the train from Penn Station to Philadelphia). My theory is that there's a great deal of correlation between these two behaviors, and studying the subjects who engage in them would add to the body of scientific knowledge that could be used in the future to develop a program wherein perpetrators of these acts could be grouped together and transported to an out-of-the-way location; because honestly, I really don't believe in capital punishment, but even my lefty views must admit that some citizens infringe upon the rights of the rest of us in completely unacceptable ways. Therefore, I propose mandatory relocation of library-book-writers and obnoxious-cell-phone-users to a distant and underpopulated island.
A cold and ugly island, though, not a beautiful one like Dominica, where The Autobiography of My Mother is set. Though as Jamaica Kincaid makes clear, life on a Caribbean island isn't just always a Jimmy Buffettesque lark in the sand.
I liked this book, though I'm sure not everyone would, and I managed to enjoy it despite the infuriatingly stupid underlining and marginalia of a previous NYPL patron. It's the story of a girl whose mother died giving birth to her; this motherlessness defines the main character's identity and life, which the story chronicles. Much of the novel is about colonialism, and it is very brutal and intense, with a great deal of human cruelty, sex, and masturbation. I thought it was good. It really took me into the existence of someone I couldn't relate to at all, in a way that was both interesting and satisfying, and it made me think about colonialism and power in a new way. What more do we want?
One of the things I liked a lot about this book was that it did a lot of "telling" instead of "showing." When I took fiction-writing class in college, the standard go-to criticism of pretty much anything I or anyone else wrote was, "You do too much telling; you need to do more showing!" This seems to be the infallible rule of writing workshops, that "telling" is about the worst sin one can commit and "showing" is just an absolutely great thing to do, but honestly, I've never accepted this dogma at all. What the hell is wrong with some good old telling? I like being told things sometimes. Seriously! Who decided this was such a horrible thing to do? I like telling, and I like to be told, provided it's done right. In this book, the narrator tells you all sorts of things, and it's great. It's what makes the novel work. I am sure that if Jamaica Kincaid had shared the draft of this book with a gaggle of undergraduates, they all would have been on her ass about all the telling and would have explained that she needed to show more. To which I say: screw them! All those fiction workshop kids might take a deep breath and settle down, lest I decide to expand criteria for my island.
Anyway, this book wasn't flawless or amazing, but I did enjoy it. I felt no driving passion to get through the story and wouldn't have been upset if someone had taken it away from me halfway though, but I did like reading it and don't feel that time was wasted at all.
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Read information about the authorJamaica Kincaid is a novelist, gardener, and former reporter for The New Yorker Magazine. She is a Professor of Literature at Claremont-McKenna College.
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