Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Invented Country: What She Read Review (briefly)

What to say about this out-of-print memoir by Isabel Allende? 

My mother always taught me: "If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all."

So I will try to be nice.

The virtues of My Invented Country:
* readable prose punctuated by the occasional humorous moment
* plenty of details on her family background and her early years in Chile
* an insider look at the culture and politics of Chile in the 20th century
* occasional social commentary relevant to both her native nation and her adopted one (the U.S.)
* connections to her novels that will engage Allende fans
* snippets from the brilliant Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's works

Its vices:
* rambling, associative, almost stream-of-consciousness style
* despite a loose focus within each chapter, the progression of topics seemed haphazard at times
* no significant depth on any one topic, although she briskly covers everything from Chilean salmon fishing to Pinochet's sunglasses to Catholicism's influence on Chilean society to her grandmother's seances
* in the end, one feels as though a somewhat witty, if narcissistic, neighbor has sat down to tea and ramblingly recounted her life story, yet you know that if she came over again tomorrow, she'd regale you with an entirely new account...

Although I may pick up another Allende novel in the future, I'm unlikely - after reading both My Invented Country and Paula - to invest in another of her memoirs.

My action:
I'm going to look up Chilean recipes and create at least one this weekend. Allende claims that their seafood is the best in the world, and notes that salmon is king there, as it is here in the Pacific Northwest, so I'm planning a fishy feast. Shall I snap a photo and post it here?

MFB, getting back into the blogging habit,
L

2 comments:

thebookstop said...

I hope you don't give up on Allende based on this read! I don't know about this book but would say that Paula and her other nonfiction are not representative of amazing works like Eva Luna or House of the Spirits. Allende's early novels are so wonderful.

Laurie said...

Don't worry, I've read many of her novels, and might try another one some day.

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