Rating:I Love Yous Are for White People, by Lac Su. Harper Perennial (2009), 249 pages.
Lac Su has a compelling story to tell in this memoir: As a five-year-old he escaped Vietnam under gunfire with his parents and little sister, they began life in America living in a roach-infested hotel in one of the poorest parts of Los Angeles, he was repeatedly humiliated and beaten by his father, and he joined an Asian gang.
Rating:The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood, by Helene Cooper. Simon & Schuster (2008), 351 pages.
Liberia was founded in 1822 by freed American slaves. It was an experiment of sorts, funded by white Americans who foresaw difficulties with freed blacks living alongside enslaved blacks,
Rating:Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Free Press (2007), 353 pages.
In order for me to love a memoir the author must cover the following basics: a great memory for not just the concrete details of life as a small child (if the memoirist has omitted the small-child portion of his or her life,
Rating:Stitches: A Memoir, by David Small. W.W. Norton & Company (2009), 329 pages.
This memoir is the biggest surprise of the year for me. I had not intended to read Stitches as I’m not much of a graphic book fan, but the nonstop rave reviews it kept receiving compelled me to stop by the library to take a look.
Rating:The Tender Bar: A Memoir, by J.R. Moehringer. Hyperion (2005), 370 pages.
Moehringer has proven, in The Tender Bar, that he is that most uncommon of authors—a male memoirist with both full access to his feelings and the ability to write about them.
Rating:Leaving Mother Lake: A Girlhood at the Edge of the World, by Yang Erche Namu and Christine Mathieu. Back Bay Books (2004), 308 pages.
Anybody who has fantasized about what life would be like in a completely matriarchal society needs to read this memoir. The author was raised in a truly matrilineal culture—the women stay in place and pass on family names and property to their daughters;
Rating:When Skateboards Will Be Free: A Memoir of a Political Childhood, by Said Sayrafiezadeh. The Dial Press (2009), 287 pages.
There was a time when I couldn’t get enough of tragic childhood memoirs. I would be appalled and heartbroken on behalf of the author and his sad, sad life—the alcoholic parents,
Rating:Sickened: The Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood, by Julie Gregory. Bantam Books (2003), 246 pages.
This is the most one-of-a-kind memoir I’ve ever read. It is incomparable in its horror—even within the subcategory of memoirs featuring insane and abusive parents, which is saying a lot—because
Rating:House of Cards: Love, Faith and Other Social Expressions, by David Ellis Dickerson. Riverhead Books (2009), 369 pages.
Sadly, I must begin this review with a tirade against the cover art. There are other things to say, much of them positive, but the cover is so astonishingly bad (especially given the nature of the story inside) I feel I have no other option.
Rating:A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father, by Augusten Burroughs. St. Martin’s Press (2008), 256 pages.
I was wrong about Augusten. He has proven beyond a doubt that he did have another award-winning book in him after all. I had declared him utterly finished after Magical Thinking, his collection of brief nonfiction essays in which he came across as an animal-hating, child-