Homesick: A Memoir

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I think that I am finally starting to get the hang of reading a book every day. It's starting to feel easier, and I think I'm starting to read a bit faster than I did at the beginning of the year (I really wished I would have timed it so I could compare). I'm finally reaching a point where I feel like I can get the book read every day and still have time left over for other things. I guess I'm just relaxing into the project more and more with each week that goes by, and worrying less about whether it the book will get done (it always gets done, so I might as well stop worrying about it) or whether I'll have anything interesting to say about the book (some days I do and some days I don't, and I think that's only natural), and I'm finally getting more comfortable with the idea of publicly saying when I don't like a book (which is something I had just a hard time with in the beginning). Now on to today's book.

Today's book; "This earnest memoir by Ward, the 46-year-old star of the 1990s sitcom hits Sisters and Once & Again and spokesperson for Sprint long distance, juxtaposes a jet-setting Hollywood image with a small town Mississippi past. More sugared up than a glass of Southern iced tea, the book will surely build Ward's reputation with her TV fan base, as it doesn't delve deep into Ward's psyche or tell all about the biz. The fascinating trajectory of Ward's ideal American woman's life she went from cheerleader and homecoming queen at the University of Alabama to fashion model and fixture of New York nightlife should intrigue readers who can relate to culture shock."

I have to disagree with the book description though, I do think that the book delves into her psyche, which is one of the things that I enjoyed about it so much. The other thing that I found really satisfying about this book was that it seemed to embody the feeling of one of the passages found within it; "I yearn for a string of lazy afternoons on the front porch of our farm cottage, a glass of sweet tea in my hand . . . " - That's how I felt the whole time I was reading this book. The book also reminds me a bit of an old movie, where the whole think gently unfolds - those are my favorite kind of books because they force me to read in a slower, more careful way - which is not something that I'm good at because there are always so many books that I want to read that sometimes I race through them too fast in order to get to the next one.

My favorite passage came towards the end of the book, where Sela and her friends are sitting around talking about the little quirks found in Southern culture. Her friends Liz and Beth share this story about Southern friendships:
"When something happens to your child," Liz says, "the littlest thing, like they don't get asked to spend the night when all the other girls are asked - it hurts you so badly. So you call your friends. And whenever I call Becky and tell her something like that, she says, 'Now what's that girls name?'
Becky knows her cue. "I say, 'I have never liked that girl, and she is not pretty.' "
That clearly isn't a quality that's limited to the South, because my mother talks like that all the time. I have a really vivid memory of being 10 years old and being totally devastated because one of my best friends didn't invite me to her slumber party, and my mother gave me one of her mom speeches that went something like this, "I know you're really upset about this, but the important thing to remember is that she is not pretty. Not even a little bit." To which I responded, "That doesn't make me feel any better." And then she said, "Well it should make you feel better, I mean would you want to go through life with a nose like hers." - As you can see my mother tried to instill those important values of shallowness and pettiness early.

I also really enjoyed the chapter where Sela discusses Hope Village - which she describes as "a permanent refuge for abused and abandoned kids" - that she founded with the help of her husband. Here is a link to the Hope Village website for those of you who want to know more: