Thursday, May 26, 2011

Remiss and Two Memoirs (O'Rourke and Chua)

Remiss seems like a common title for my blog posts.  My life is kind of busy.  I've still had time to read and just finished Meghan O'Rourke's "The Long Goodbye."  I thought it was very strong.  There was a string of sadness throughout the book and it made me realize how ultimately alone we all are in our private struggles.  Although the book was sad, at the end of the day, I think it was a celebration of a relationship, that relationship of a mother and child.  I felt so happy that Meghan had seemingly had such an incredible mom and she had such great experiences with her when she was alive.  That's what I tried to keep in my head while I read the book.  As well as remembering to try to be as good of a mom as Meghan's so that my own daughters will remember me so warmly and fondly.

There's no need for me to talk much about it anymore (it's been reviewed everywhere), but I wanted to note how much I did enjoy it:

In truth, however, the book did make me realize how different my upbringing was from Meghan's upbringing, being a child of immigrants, which leads me to the next book I read, or "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom" by Amy Chua.  Even though Chua is an extremist, I could definitely relate to that sort of upbringing a little more.  So in some sense, reading O'Rourke's memoir was like watching a show on television, but reading Tiger Mom was a bit too familiar.  Tim Yu writes an incredibly smart and accurate critique of the book:

The biggest problem I had with Chua's book was her blanket black and white statements.  "Chinese people are like this..." and "Westerners are like this..."  Those statements were sprinkled throughout the book and despite some familiarity with her style of parenting, I disagreed with many of her blanket statements.  In truth, however, once in a while, I found myself looking at myself and asking myself how many times have I said to my husband: "Those moms are so 'American' in how they raise their kids.'"  So I guess we can all be guilty of stereotyping.  At the end of the day, though, I would have expected someone educated as well as she has been to be more open-minded about her views.

I also think that Chua's book seemed so extreme because she didn't show many moments of tenderness towards her children.  She seems so intelligent, yet so unaware at the same time.  I do find it odd too that she wouldn't have anticipated this type of response to her memoir.  Only a person living on an island would have had her supposed surprised response.

I've got a new stack of poetry books on my desk so hopefully I'll get a chance to reflect on those soon.  Also, I've got a few outstanding Coffee Chats I've been hounding people about lately.  One is by the author of MULE, Shane McCrae, so hopefully I can get those responses from him soon.

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