Saturday, May 22, 2010

Novel Journey Recommends

This week I am recommending two memoirs that are similar to Angela's Ashes.

The Invisible Wall, by Harry Bernstein

The premise of this book didn't grab my attention straightway; a street in England, one side Jewish, the other Christian, on the eve of WWI. But then you open the first page and learn that Mr. Bernstein is a natural born story teller. Before you know it, you're caught up in the saga of a poverty-torn street in England and its occupants struggle for dignity.

Just as amazing is the that the author was aged 96 before he published. We've covered a lot of journeys on Novel Journey, but that has to be one of my favorite ones. Not only did he finally publish at 96, but he is now multi-published. I'm so glad he succeeded because his voice and talent shine.

The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls

Bleed on paper--that's the advice writers are often given. Jeanette Walls surely did when she turned around and confronted her past, finding both its sweetness and its sorrow.

I'd heard of the Glass Castle, but was unable to pin down what the book was about. All I kept hearing was, "Trust me, read it." Someone else said, "It's a memoir but it's written like a novel, the way I wish I could write a novel." So when I had a chance to pick up a copy, I did.

What touched me with this book was its frank honesty. So many times we write things slanted towards our current worldview. A good example of this is how many historical novels have characters that believe modern ideals rather than those of the novel's day and age. This memoir manages to do what so few writers manage . . . she shows the worldview she had as a child, without her adult views interfering. It is quite a feat.

There is a richness these two memoirs offer writers, the ability to capture the human struggle with honesty. We are taught that our villains and heroes should not be two dimensional . . . but more like in real life. If you want to see how that can look on paper, memoirs are essential.


Lori Benton said...

I'll pick up a copy of both of these.

96 years old... I find that so deeply moving.

WomenGrowingInChrist said...

Thanks for the recommendations! I loved Angela's Ashes and I'm always looking for a good memoir!

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Johnnie said...

The Glass Castle is an excellent book. I read it over a year ago, but still find myself thinking about different events Ms. Walls wrote about and how much she had to overcome.

Lori Benton said...

I finished reading THE INVISIBLE WALL today. Thanks so much for the recommendation. A wonderful book as gripping as many novels I've read.

And how appropriate to have finished today, May 30th, which is the author's 100th birthday.

Happy Birthday, 'arry! :)