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In order to keep my hero-worship in check, I am going to focus not on Pres. Elect Obama’s undeniable brilliance, compassion, humanism, feminism, social conscience, historical perspective, innovation—ok, see why I need to get a hold of myself here?—but on his book, Dreams from My Father, as a work of literature.

barack

Based on a recommendation from a very discerning literary friend, I had the idea that I would admire Dreams from My Father on a craft-level, but it definitely surpassed my expectations in terms of the beauty of its language and its structural sophistication. It is divided into three sections, a system of organization readers of this blog know I admire. Section one encompasses Pres. Obama’s early years in Hawaii with his mother and his maternal grandparents, his time in Indonesia with his mother and stepfather, his tenure at an exclusive private school and his bi-coastal college experience. Section two centers around his community organizing on Chicago’s South Side. Section three, just as long as the other sections, depicts only his brief first journey to Kenya to meet his father’s side of the family.

Given the many disparities between these three sections, Dreams from My Father could easily have seemed like three separate books bound into one. Read the rest of this entry »

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This book. calamity

The first copy of Calamity and Other Stories that I picked up was from the library. I was drawn to it because of the sad, lopsided cupcake featured on the cover. I read it because it was a linked short story collection by a young woman–at the time I wasn’t trying to write one of those yet, but the interest was obviously already there–and also because the blurb on the front invoked both Lorrie Moore and Alice Munro.

Reading along, I was enjoying the work but wasn’t blown away until I reached the story “Anniversary.” Read the rest of this entry »