5 Most Popular Posts: October 2021
- November 4, 2021
We here at the Independent love every piece we run. There are no winners or losers. But all kidding aside, here are October’s winners.
- Kitty Kelley’s review of Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause by Ty Seidule (St. Martin’s Press). “Few others could write this book with such sterling credibility. Only a man of the South, a Virginian, and a soldier with a Ph.D. in history could so persuasively mount the case against a national hero, and label him a traitor. For even today, the image of Lee, who fought against his country to preserve slavery, is revered with monuments, parks, military bases, counties, roads, schools, ships, and universities named in his honor. Yet, armed with years of documented research, Seidule demonstrates that Lee, like Judas, was guilty of base betrayal.”
- K.L. Romo’s review of The Exiles: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline (Custom House). “The Exiles poignantly explores the issues of social identity, fate, loyalty, and survival during a time in history when women were ‘less than,’ and Anglo society believed itself entitled to decimate indigenous tribes living on confiscated land. From the squalid straw floors and suffering of Newgate, to a ship’s dark and foul hold, to a penal colony in Hobart Town, readers follow these brave women on their journey of survival through inexplicable sorrow, hardship, and loss. Although the novel chronicles fictional journeys a century past, the author’s commentary on social justice applies today. A masterpiece of historical reckoning, this heartrending story will stay with readers long after they turn the last page.”
- Erika Swyler’s review of The Keeper of Lost Things: A Novel by Ruth Hogan (William Morrow). “Though the plot dictates that Laura is an agent of redemption for both Eunice and Anthony, her own actions are less self-directed and come more at the hands of the men around her. As a keeper, she’s nicely kept. Lack of female agency aside, the highlight of Hogan’s work is its optimistic escapism, a bit of magic that feels quite foreign in the current political climate. It relies on the wonderful idea that people can be ‘fixed,’ given the resources. Few things sound more perfect than the notion of living in a paid-for mansion and reuniting strangers with their lost objects, all while reinventing oneself and falling in love. Readers in need of hopeful diversion will not be disappointed.”
- Susi Wyss’ review of Gravel Heart: A Novel by Abdulrazak Gurnah (Bloomsbury USA). “Toward the end of the novel, Salim’s father tries to fill in some of the remaining blanks for his son, unknowingly shedding light on the parallels between the book and Measure for Measure. Gurnah’s modern retelling of Shakespeare’s play brings to mind the Hogarth Shakespeare project, a series of the Bard’s works retold by acclaimed novelists of today, including Margaret Atwood, Gillian Flynn, and Anne Tyler. Although Gravel Heart is not one of their eight published or forthcoming books, one can’t help but wonder if Gurnah was somehow inspired by this project.”
- “What is Memoir?” by Annette Gendler. “So what’s the difference between autobiography and memoir? And why should we care? Both are written by the person whose life is being narrated, right? Yes, but autobiography is a chronological account of that life, from birth to a later stage in life. Autobiography is concerned with recounting what happened, with setting the record straight, with giving a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the life of a usually famous person. Autobiography is not concerned, as memoir is, with introspection. A good memoir is not an accumulation of anecdotes, however entertaining they may be, but rather an inquiry into what those stories mean to the narrator.”