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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.

The Impostor's Daughter: A True Memoir - Laurie Sandell Unlike some reviewers, I do know what a "graphic memoir" is, and I teach with them and have presented on doing so at a national professional conference. On Thursday I was in Portland, Oregon for a meeting and spent an hour at Powell's Books, arguably one of the world's best bookstores. I had located a copy of Laxalt's Sweet Promised Land to read as my Basque book for my Books of the World Challenge, and The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N for a nostalgia re-read as I finish up Wex's fantastic Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All of Its Moods. I was done and congratulating myself on my ability to escape Powell's at under $15. This had never happened before, and it didn't happen this time, either.Since I figured that the martini and Thai take-out dinner I was heading to wouldn't get around to any food for several hours, I went to the Powell's cafe for a cookie. The graphic novel section is in the cafe, and as I stood in line, I saw R. Crumb's graphic--what? "Graphic novel/cartoon-style rendition," I guess, of The Book of Genesis on an end cap. Munching my flourless chocolate cookie, I went over to look at the Crumb. There's something wonderful about Genesis illustrated by the man who brought us the cartoon version of Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis -- A Clinical-Forensic Study (as well as the various applications of same in the rest of his early oeuvre). I was going to wait to buy the Crumb, I decided. Maybe later, used. On the next end cap was Sandell's The Impostor's Daughter.I notice it because the cover was bright and interesting, and because it was in the graphic novels section and the subtitle is "A True Memoir." "True" is inserted with a caret, so I knew that truth and memory would be an issue. Given the cover illustration, in which Sandell depicts herself with face obscured by a photo of her father, it seemed that identity would be a focus as well. I flipped through the book. The appealing interior illustrations are also brightly colored in the palate of the dust jacket. They were engaging and the lettering was easy to read. The flap promised a good story. I bought it. At least I left Powell's at under $40, but alas, that is no record for me. (My first visit to Powell's, during my first visit to Portland, was half an hour and $115 in 1996 dollars).The Impostor's Daughter: A True Memoir is about Sandell's father and his profound effects on her life. Sandell does a terrific job of representing her passionate, larger-than-life father and herself as an adoring child. Over time, odd things happen and discrepancies creep in. Just as Jeannette Walls so eloquently described the crumbling of a child's idealization of her parents in The Glass Castle, so Sandell shows the reader the erosion of her trust in her father's professed life story. As the evidence mounts that he is not what he says he is, Sandell moves from passive discovery to active uncovering, investigating the "facts" of her father's life and finding them at best grandiosely distorted; at worst, fabricated. The article she wrote about this process is available at Esquire (but read it after you read the book). This story of disillusionment co-occurs and intersects with her own adult development, where telling her father's stories stands in for telling her own stories, where her romantic relationships are ambivalent, and where she must eventually come to terms with her growing addiction to Ambien.I'd have wished for a last panel that didn't show Sandell beginning to write the book, but this is a minor complaint. I read until the martini and Thai take-out dinner started. Toward the end, when conversation flagged, I read a little more when I thought I could get away with it. I read when I woke up not many hours later to go to my meeting. I read during breaks at the meeting. I did not read on the highway, though I thought about it. I did not read until I got back home, at which time, although I was exhausted from the martinis, the meeting, and the trip back home, I refused to do anything else until I'd finished reading.Read The Impostor's Daughter with The Glass Castle, or with other graphic memoirs such as Marjane Satrapi's The Complete Persepolis, Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, and Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers for an interesting range of graphic styles and subjects.