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I read widely and in most genres but romance and westerns. Here you'll find my reviews since 2007, with a few reviews of previously read books as well.


In 2012, I completed an "authors of the world" challenge, reading a book for every country (and a few other entities) by someone who'd lived there for at least two years. I expect to tag these books by challenge and country in the near future. I'm still refining my list by adding books that better meet my challenge criteria.

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nafisi "It is only now, when I try to gather up the morsels of those days, that I discover how little, if ever, we talked about our personal lives--about love and marriage and how it felt to have children, or not to. It seemed as if, apart from literature, the political had devoured us, eliminating the personal or private." (p. 237) When I reached this statement about 2/3 in, I thought, yes, and that's why I just can't get into this memoir, despite repeated efforts over the last year. I empathize with Nafisi (as a secular subject high school teacher in a religious school, I once had to buy or hand-expurgate 11 copies of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich to keep my job) and, while I don't find her comments on literature very interesting, I'm at least in agreement with the idea that novels are a refuge in difficult times, or that they may illuminate sociopolitical contexts other than those in which they were written. I think my inability to engage deeply with Nafisi is due in part to the lack of emotional detail; there's a reasonable amount of telling of emotion, but not much showing of it. Nafisi as narrator seems distant, somewhat authoritarian, and sometimes reactive in ways that seem guaranteed to get her sacked, beaten, or executed. These outbursts don't always make sense to me, though I can add my own speculation that she is keeping a tight lid on her feelings, or erupts when she can't stand it anymore, or is culturally less disclosive than an American would be. However, that's just my exegesis, and Nafisi comes off as more histrionic than repressed (that is, as if her emotions are shallow rather than that she's forcing them down). Again, that's not what she says, but it is what I take from what I actually experience as a reader. Despite being much more cued by words than images, I found [b:Persepolis|9516|Persepolis The Story of a Childhood|Marjane Satrapi|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41VSM65TXSL._SL75_.jpg|3303888] more immediate and moving.I could now get into a long discussion of fiction vs. memoir and the intentionalist fallacy, but instead I'm just going to reitterate that for whatever reason, I never got to a point where this felt like a pleasure. That's an observation, not an indictment. I'm glad to have read it, but it was a long, hard road.