Let’s start our first book-report!
Currently reading⇓ (375 pages on paperback)
Summary: «At Home In The World» by Joyce Maynard is a memoir by a published author in America, where she reveals details about her uneasy up-growing in the 60s, her first love affair – at age eighteen – with the famous author J.D Salinger and her path to becoming a writer. It is a raw autobiography, where she portrays her life with full honesty; disclosing the most unrefined parts about herself as both a child a wife and a mother.
Why this book?
One day I felt curious, so I sat down with my computer and researched: «Well-known authors who got published at a young age.» I came across an article with the headline: «23 writers who were famous by age 23» – published on the website, mentalfloss.com by Andréa Fernandes (23.08.12).
As I scrolled down the long list of writers and their most famous books, my eyes suddenly caught a glimpse of the words: «Affair with J.D Salinger».
The headline reads Joyce Maynard, and in the paragraph below there is a description of her relationship with the author of «The Catcher In The Rye» – an episode she writes about in her most published book, «At Home In The World» (1998).
I was intrigued. For some reason my mind told me that I had to buy this book.
(I call this feeling: instinctive book-shopping. I keep it as a rule that when I feel like I must read something, I buy it – and I never regret it afterwords.)
Although I knew nothing about this author, I was eager to feed my curiosity on Mr. Salinger’s day-to-day life in Cornish, New Hampshire. I also obtain a secret obsession with autobiographies – something I have been trying to avoid for a long time, in order to really catch up with the fictional classics. However, now I could not keep myself from reading about yet another author’s life.
I started it a week ago and I’m on page 109, chapter 5 – the day that Joyce and Mr. Salinger first meet.
What I liked
- Her direct way of explaining things.
She doesn’t decorate her words more than necessary and only some of her adjectives can be called advanced. I noticed quickly that she likes to combine several words to make one word. Ironically, J.D Salinger does the same thing. For example, late-at-night or hand-in-hand are expressions that belong in their vocabulary. At first, I found her sentences bizarre and out of place- but after a while, I rather enjoyed them.
- Her mother’s affection.
Although there is a considerable amount of weaknesses to find in Mrs. Maynard’s personality – she does care for her daughter deeply. For me, it’s obvious that she sees herself in Joyce – there is a mutual understanding between them that never dies and I have a feeling it will continue to be present for as long as Mrs. Maynard is alive. And since I’m very sensitive on the subject of a mother’s love for a daughter — I almost cried on page 45, when she leaves a letter to her daughter in Joyce’s diary, explaining how much she can connect with her feelings of alienation and despair. It was heartwarming and gripping all at once.
What I disliked
- Her parents view on life
On page 40, Chapter 1 – the UNH english professor and failed artist, Max Maynard makes his daughter believe that one cannot always make a career out of what one is truly passionate about. As the author quotes:
«But I’m acutely aware of my father’s story, too. I know well that the fact that you love to do a particular thing doesn’t mean you can earn a living by it, or that anyone will ever acknowledge your talents.Singing and dancing might make me happy, but are less likely to make me successful – something that matters a lot in our family.»
I don’t know (yet) if this should actually be on the list of dislikes, because the author might reveal later that she doesn’t go by the same belief anymore – but the fact that her parents held this highly pessimistic approach on life – makes me sad and angry. I don’t think anyone should ever give up their passion, because they’re afraid of not getting the right acknowledgement from the public. In my personal opinion, this is a damaging way of thinking – and it doesn’t lead to anything good.
A part of me is happy that she chose to become a writer (for I like her style and the way she entertains the reader), but another part is frustrated over the fact that she didn’t choose a career on the stage …
- The absence of her sister, Rona
Before the preface, she writes: «To my sister, Rona, with admiration and love.»
Yet, throughout the 109 pages I have read so far – she has only mentioned her two or three times. And when she does, it’s short and modest, as if Rona was an irrelevant character to her life. In fact, her mother and father seem much more important to her than the person she is most related to by blood. Perhaps they weren’t on good terms. I don’t know. However, I would like to know more about this mysterious girl and the reason why she’s so shy and hidden from the rest of the world – as the author puts it.
Overall opinion of the book
As an overall opinion, I must say that I’m loving it so far. Despite the few unanswered questions that I have, this is a very enjoyable memoir – and it gets even more exiting when J.D Salinger comes into her life and changes her whole view on things. I will not reveal too much, but if you’re an aspiring writer, seeking for some advice on how to climb the latter – this book (among many others of course) is something for you.
In addition to Wednesday’s book-report, you’ll get a weekly poem and quote. (This time, I have been looking into some translated works).
Poem of the week
“Love teaches me to feed on flames and tears;
to turn withered hope green through desire;
to re-enslave my heart each time Love frees
his noble face from that heavy disdain;
Love also teaches me to bear his weight
when I dream he’s there alluring, touching
me, and in the sweet encounter the pain’s
gone and my beloved enjoys my languors;
Sweet are these tears, delicious this passion.
How is this–that I have lost all hope saves
me–in the back of my mind the sense I
can renounce the desire coursing through
my body–that people honor torment
when you smile serenely. Thus Love teaches me …”
(«Love teaches me to feed on flames and tears» by Italian, Vittoria Colonna)
Quote of the week
“Never stand begging for what you have the power to earn.”
– Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Spanish writer)
Hope you’re having a lovely day so far♥
Aftur S. Nerdrum