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laurieh

Tomes and Tea Leaves

Currently reading

Kismetology
Jaimie Admans
On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History
Nicholas A. Basbanes
Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing
Anya Von Bremzen
The Mirror Lied: One Woman's 25-Year Struggle with Bulimia, Anorexia, Diet Pill Addiction, Laxative Abuse and Cutting.
Marc A. Zimmer, N.R. Mitgang, Ira M. Sacker
Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear: Inside the Land of Ballet
Stephen Manes
Sisterland
Curtis Sittenfeld
Flora
Gail Godwin
The Old Curiosity Shop
Charles Dickens, Norman Page
The English Eccentrics
Edith Sitwell, Richard Ingrams (Introduction)

What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness

What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness - Candia McWilliam

Ugh, this book took forever to get through. It sounds like it should be fascinating. McWilliam suffers from a rare condition that produces functional blindness-- her eyes can see but her eyelids are unable to open. This condition arrived in middle age, a particularly cruel affliction for a person who lived her life in the world of books. Sudden blindness is a painful blow for a writer and reader. 

I expected this to be a memoir about dealing with blindness, but it really is not. This is a memoir that seems to be simultaneously about everything and nothing at all. McWilliam covers the entirety of her life, and jumps around throughout. The memoir is written in stream-of-consciousness format, and the tone is depressing. Certainly McWilliam has experienced difficult and tragedy. Her mother committed suicide, and McWilliam is a recovering alcoholic. Still, the tone is terribly woeful. I've read plenty of memoirs about horrible things, and this one is particularly depressing. Much of the author's time is spent analyzing her relationships with her ex-husbands. 

All of this said, McWilliam is quite a writer. She has some beautiful turns of phrase. Her technical writing ability is quite amazing. But this memoir is completely inaccessible. The writer seems to have little awareness of the benefits she reaped from growing up among the intelligentsia. I love the literary world in which McWilliam lives, but I found this memoir to be dull, slow going.