Sunday, July 10, 2011

Book review: Living Out Loud

I know, I just posted a review of Anna Karenina... can you tell I was yearning to tear through something a little more palatable the second I finished it?

Living Out Loud is a collection of essays from Anna Quindlen, published in 1988 as a compilation of her "Life in the 30's" column for the New York Times.  After I read the graduation speech on perfection, K gave me A Short Guide to a Happy Life (which I love) and a few weeks later, her spare copy of Living Out Loud.

This book is in many ways, anachronistic.  Already some of the references to the zeitgeist of the 80's are dated.  But it holds up well in the sense that the meat of her writing is about the very things one still encounters as a 30-something mom, now: growing up, parenting, being pregnant, managing a house, working, sex, living, dying.  Really, it didn't matter that some of the newsy references were unfamiliar--I just looked them up.  Her writing spoke in a way to the same part of me that a good blog post does.

And that's why this was an important book for me.  A few chapters in to it I told K that it was like finding a blog that existed before there was such a thing as a blog.  When I applied to Masters' programs, I struggled with choosing my focus in either fiction or creative nonfiction.  My exposure to nonfiction is much more limited (or has been, until recent years) because I have spent half of my life studying novels and plays.  I didn't know such a thing as Anna Quindlen's column existed, honestly.  At least it wasn't something I was searching out or flipping through on our coffee table when I was in high school and college.  But somehow I found my way to loving exactly what she does, but through blogs and then to columns and books.

I'm interested in the fact that good writing is good writing, and with technology it's transcending form.  We're not limited to books, nor is a blog by its very definition shoddy writing.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was a quick read, the kind of thing one could read a little at a time.  After reading a few things she's done I'm looking forward to picking up some of her novels to see if I enjoy them too.

My recommendation: A good read for women, especially moms.

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