Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Two Memoirs that Couldn't Hold my Attention

Friends, I don't like giving one star reviews. I know how much goes in to writing a book and putting yourself out there. Nowhere is an author more exposed than in a memoir. Sadly, I am now compelled to give two memoirs one star reviews. I couldn't finish either of them, despite the feeling that both authors are cool people that I'd like to meet.

Here goes...

Following Atticus
by Tom Ryan
2011
*
1 star - nice dog, interesting owner, repetitive journey
ALR Green


Tom Ryan created and authored The Undertoad, a newspaper for the town of Newburyport, MA, for a decade. A transplant to the North Shore of Massachusetts, he used the paper to uncover the more sordid side of small town life and push for change in local government. Well done.

He adopts a little Schnauzer, Max, and finds himself transformed into a dog person. When Max dies, Mr. Ryan gets another Schnauzer, Atticus, and the story is underway.

Mr. Ryan is a good journalist and I fear that was his undoing for me. His prose, while compelling when reporting the news, is not something that could sustain me for an entire book. 

No doubt, hikers through the White Mountains will be more interested to learn about his treks with his dog, but I found it to be repetitive and just couldn't plow through.


Out of the Whirlpool
a memoir of remorse and reconciliation
by Sue Wiygul Martin
2013
*
1 star - I wanted to finish, but I couldn't
ALR Green


So much did I want to like this book, that I read 200 pages before stopping. Ms. Martin has a lot to say and she opens her heart and soul in her writing. 

Her opening pages, which describe deep depression, were perfect and heartbreaking. Depression is not something you pull yourself out of and as hers spiraled out of control, she decided to take her own life, but instead, lived, permanently blinded by the attempt.

Uneven is my best description of the book. Her stories of the coping mechanisms required to live in a sighted world during her first year of blindness were interesting. I was particularly impressed by the subtleties of cane use. 

When Ms. Martin is writing about how to use a cane, how to cook, etc., it's a good book. Where it failed me was when she turns to the more mundane aspects of life. The passages involving getting jobs, getting married, moving, slowed things down considerably.

I was disappointed that there was not more about how people learn to work with a guide dog. While she offered details on learning braille, how to choose clothing, and other stuff, her experience at the guide dog school was limited to meeting her dog and then her return home. Nothing in between about how she trained. That seemed odd (I thought I'd finally learn how people with seeing eye dogs manage picking up their dog's poop).

Ms. Martin shows us how full life can be for visually impaired people when they are in the right environment and have the will to try new things. That's all good. 

Thank you, Sue Wiygul Martin, for sharing your life and for being honest. I think this book has a lot going for it, but the writing style wasn't for me. 

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes books that seem so promising just go wrong. Sorry you got two in a row.

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