I found myself developing a love/hate relationship Joyce
Maynard’s At Home in the World. My
Advanced Memoir Workshop had picked it for our April reading.
First of all, At Home in the World is such a
compelling read that whenever I opened it, I found myself reading way more than
I had time for. And yet I did not particularly like the main characters, nor
was I mesmerized by the story, nor is the writing, while smooth and swift, the kind
of prose that I enjoy and admire. I wasn’t thinking, “I wish I
could write like that,” and I didn’t underline a single phrase. And yet, I knew
I was in the hands of a forceful and skilled writer.
Maynard keeps up; her entire childhood is covered in one chapter, and the affair
with J.D. Salinger takes up less than half the book. It’s the kind of book that
sweeps you up, twirls you around, and when you land, you blink for a while,
wondering what a strange place you’ve been to.
story that was not on the reading lists in Germany, where I grew up (unlike, for instance, To Kill a Mocking Bird). And it seems to me you’d better
read it before you turn twenty, unless you haven’t grown up yet. So I’m way too
old to get into it now.