starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
[personal profile] starlady
Danticat, Edwidge. Brother, I'm Dying. New York: Knopf, 2007.

In this memoir Danticat tells the story of her uncle, who was like a father to her while her parents emigrated to New York City, and of her father, both of whom died within a few months of each other in 2004: her father from end-stage lung disease, her uncle at the hands of U.S. immigration officers' abuse and medical neglect after seeking temporary asylum from gang violence in his neighborhood of Bel Air in Port-au-Prince. The gang members were wrongly convinced that Danticat's uncle Joseph had given U.N. "peacekeepers" his authorization to use his church in their assault on the neighborhood.

It's a horrible story, and after the January earthquake it's impossible not to remember constantly while reading that Joseph's son, Danticat's cousin Maxo, was killed in the quake, and the neighborhood destroyed. But as much as the book is about their deaths, Danticat also writes eloquently about their lives, both in Haiti and in New York, apart and finally together: they are buried next to each other in Queens, since Danticat's Haitian family told them it was unsafe to repatriate Joseph's body for burial (the gangs wanted to behead his corpse). Having watched a parent die slowly in my own home, my heart went out to Danticat (who found out she was pregnant right after her father was given his terminal diagnosis, in an appallingly unprofessional manner) doing the same thing, and I wished uselessly that she and her family had been better able to accept her father's dying while he was doing it. But everyone's experiences with this (including my own) are ultimately personal, as [personal profile] jonquil pointed out in this post, which I really needed to hear without realizing it.

Anyway. I never used to like memoirs; I never used to like non-fiction, period. But I was missing out, and Danticat's book in particular is a wonderful example of what the genre can do.

McGuire, Seanan. A Local Habitation. New York: DAW Books, 2010.

I read and enjoyed the first book in the adventures of Toby Daye, Rosemary and Rue, last summer, but this book has many of the problems of a second novel: to wit, it doesn't move as fleetly, leaving me more time to realize all the ways in which Toby's non-conforming-conformity to urban fantasy stereotypes is grating. Also, I totally spotted the twist relating to Alex after about one chapter, and I passionately hate when I can out-observe the characters without the narration's complicity in keeping the wool over their eyes. At the same time Toby = Luddite is less amusing this time around, and I was rather thrown by the complete disappearance of her human baby-daddy and child from her thoughts. All the same, I'll probably keep reading, because I've been getting these out of the library.
Identity URL: 
Account name:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
HTML doesn't work in the subject.


If you are unable to use this captcha for any reason, please contact us by email at

Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.