So I came really late to the party on this one! I have finally read Jeannette Walls' amazing memoir THE GLASS CASTLE. I had the opportunity to see her speak and so, naturally, I wanted to read something by her before hand. Since her memoir is her most well known work, and the first thing she wrote, I decide that this was a good place to start.
If you haven't read this amazing amazing story yet then you really need to. I read it pretty much in one sitting. It is hilarious, tragic, and moving; you need to keep reminding yourself that this isn't a work of fiction, this is REAL. An incredible story (one that makes your family look normal in comparison), this is probably one of, if not the, best memoir I've ever read.
Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.
Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town—and the family—Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.
What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
Monday, 8 July 2013
“Most of the time, there is no truth, only various levels of interpretation. Fact is a construct we provide to the public.”
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