Monday, May 4, 2009

Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg

When you are raised by (for argument’s sake) a story teller you do, as you age, begin to question things you once believed. You become embarrassed about the stories you have told others over the years because you believed the person who told them to you.
You begin to realize that your aunt (the one you never met) probably wasn’t an Olympic ice skater and your relatives (all the relatives you never met) were probably not the inventors of Dr. Pepper and the Wonder Bread packaging. They probably were not George Harrison nor dear friends of Lawrence Welk, Glenn Miller and Liberace. Your unmet uncles probably didn’t ride with Jesse James and their sisters probably didn’t sleep in cigar boxes. You begin to realize that much of what you once clung to as your “history” was probably just bits and pieces your mother once read in the Guinness Book of World Records and some romance novels. You feel like Forrest Gump.
And you then begin to question everything! Did you actually break your collar bone by carrying your own trike down the stairs? Did you really not speak a single word until you were 4? You question your living arrangements, your education, your past. You have no history of your own that you can carry around with any kind of conviction! You feel lost....
I completely understand the author’s feelings toward her mother and why she made the final decision she had to make....
but while Susanna Sonnenberg is a beautiful woman and brilliant writer, make no mistake, I can’t honestly say I enjoyed reading her memoir. Perhaps I was expecting something more amusing like The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls ... I really don’t know.
At one point I thought the book should have been renamed “Her Last F*ck”, but that too, just made me feel rather hollow.
I certainly admire that she wrote the book and I am sure doing so was an amazing and difficult experience for her. I could relate to a great deal of it, in fact, which may be where my feelings about it are stemming.
Sometimes I simply think I would be willing to take a difficult and tragic journey if I felt it was all worth it in the end, but I don’t know that I felt content with this author’s resolve. It is hers, though, after all, so who am I to say I am displeased?
I am not even pleased with my own review of it, truth be told, so...
let me just say that this book was well-written and deep. It was heartfelt and honest. It was sad.


Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, I read that the original recipe for Dr Pepper was found in an antiques store in Waco Texas yesterday. I actually read the entire story based upon the long lost relative you mentioned. I didn't recognize any names!!


bev said...

How heartbreaking and how true. Many of us grow up with a "history" invented by a parent. The "history" of wishes, hopes, and dreams denied. When I realized my "history" wasn't mine at all, it emptied me to allow for a re-invention of sorts. Wonder how many false histories there are living out there.

Leigh said...

Well as I mentioned it sure would be nice to PROFIT from drinking all this Dr. Pepper instead of the opposite! LOL