Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Welcome to My Country

Welcome to my Country is a fantastic piece of non-fiction. Exactly what I wanted to read to help me understand how to craft meaningful essays.

Thanks, Bunny, for the recommendation!

Slater's memoir not only discusses her work as a therapist but also as a patient.

What is gorgeous about this book is that she doesn't shy away from the the complex questions good prose inspires, the attempt at answering such questions and being honest when there's not an obvious answer. She sees the self in others, which is hard to do in person--let alone in writing! Her prose is constantly pushing the boundaries of self (and human) understanding and experience too. And the language is never compromised for the narrative. Some sentences were lines of poetry.

"Some Kind of Cleansing" was definitely my favorite chapter. On the surface, this is an essay about Schizophrenia. Deeper down it becomes an intellectual debate on creative ownership and authorship. I love this--that this memoir is layered and complex and replicates the human experience. It's not a flat narrative about the self. It's a narrative about relationship between the self and others. The give and take. The back and forth. It's clear Slater wants to share her experience, but her reflection clearly shows she's still learning from it too.

The other chapter I loved was "Three Spheres." It was a perfect ending to the memoir. And it really brought home the theme of the self as the other, but learning to draw boundaries and heal while being compassionate and relate-able. Really great stuff! Think Girl, Interrupted but way more mature and full-circle without the girl cattiness.

I read Slater's Lying in grad school. I remember liking it while being disturbed by it. And not really trusting her as a memoir writer..., but now I think that was the whole point of Lying based on how I wholeheartedly trust her as a narrator in Welcome to my Country.

Slater = newest influence for my own non-fiction writing.

Welcome to my Country = 4 1/2 Hello Kittys.


I'm trying to write essays right now, but it's taking me a long time to produce an essay. I need more incubation time with essay writing than poetry. I wish there was a mind reading device that could plop your thoughts onto paper. And I'm feeling pickier about my prose than my poetry (which is why it's taking me so long to produce one piece?). And/or because it's new...?

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